California is now the fifth state with a right to die with dignity, thanks to a new law signed today by Governor Jerry Brown. Under the law, terminally ill patients will be allowed to take doctor-prescribed drugs to end their lives.
This is long overdue. We grant this small mercy to our pets when they’re suffering. It’s unconscionable that this right is denied to human beings.
The bill he received includes requirements that the patient be physically capable of taking the medication themselves, that two doctors approve it, that the patient submit several written requests, and that there be two witnesses, one of whom is not a family member.
California’s measure came after at least two dozen states introduced aid-in-dying legislation this year, though the measures stalled elsewhere. Doctors in Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana already can prescribe life-ending drugs.
[Brittany] Maynard’s family attended the legislative debate in California throughout the year. Maynard’s mother, Debbie Ziegler, testified in committee hearings and carried a large picture of her daughter as she listened to lawmakers’ debate.
In a video recorded days before Maynard took life-ending drugs, she told California lawmakers that no one should have to leave home to legally kill themselves under the care of a doctor.
“No one should have to leave their home and community for peace of mind, to escape suffering, and to plan for a gentle death,” Maynard said in the video released by right-to-die advocates after her death.