Riverside County Superior Court judge Daniel A. Ottolia yesterday officially overturned the California End of Life Option Act. The formal ruling in Ahn v. Hestrin confirmed his earlier verbal ruling, thus far unsuccessfully appealed by the state’s Attorney General).
The California End of Life Option Act is no longer in effect (for now). Patients can no longer request prescriptions from their physicians to peacefully hasten their death and the process stops for all those who were already in the process at the time of the ruling.
The announcement of the ruling was the dreaded late-Friday-afternoon-before-the-long-weekend news bomb. And yet it was all too familiar. It was reminiscent of the judicial efforts to thwart the original Oregon Death with Dignity Act in 1994. Like back then, it means that dying patients, some of whom had worked for passage of the law, are forced to endure the very kind of death they fought to avoid.
The opponents of death with dignity who brought this legal challenge forward—extreme religious operatives who want to force their beliefs on everyone—have been at this for decades. They’re using the same line of arguments they did in Oregon 25 years ago, in Washington 10 years ago, and in Vermont two years ago. They ultimately failed again and again, and they will fail again in California, too.
Long Court Battle
We are certain we will prevail when this case is appealed. But the court battle will be a long process. There are more court dates scheduled in California in the next few weeks.
In the meantime, we fully support the State of California’s efforts to stay this outrageous ruling so that the law can be reinstated. And we are working to intervene in the case.
We call on you to support our fight for the long haul. Please chip in to help us defend the California End of Life Option Act.
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“I am angry”
In a reaction to the ruling, Death with Dignity National Center Board President George Eighmey said:
“I am angry that terminally ill Californians who have already started the request process or were planning to use the law can no longer count on dying in peace because of a wrong legal interpretation.
“I am angry that invalidating a law designed to aid those at the end of life disrespects the will of the people of California, three in four of whom support this law.
“And I am angry the judge ruled that requesting aid in dying is not a matter related to healthcare at the urging of right-wing religious figures who were in no way affected by the law.”
Continuing the Fight
We will continue to fight this frivolous effort to take away the right to die with dignity from Californians—and all Americans. But it is only with your help that we can win. Please donate today.
Featured image by Brian Wilkins.