California becomes fifth state to legalize euthanasia
by Associated Press
SACRAMENTOOct 07, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Associated Press
Oct 07, 2015 12:00 am
California has become the fifth U.S. state to allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives using doctor-prescribed drugs after Gov. Jerry Brown announced Monday he had signed one of the most emotionally charged bills of the year. Brown, a lifelong Catholic, announced he had signed the legislation after thoroughly considering all opinions and discussing the issue with many people, including a Catholic bishop and two of Brown's doctors. "In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death," the governor wrote in a signing statement that accompanied his signature on the legislation. "I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill.
The 77-year-old Democratic governor said he would not those comforts to others. Until now, Brown had declined to comment on the issue.
Opponents said the bill legalizes premature suicide, but supporters called that comparison inappropriate because it applies to mentally sound, terminally ill people and not those who are depressed or impaired. Religious groups and advocates for people with disabilities opposed the bill and nearly identical legislation that had stalled in the Legislature weeks earlier, saying it goes against the will of God and put terminally ill patients at risk for coerced death. The measure was brought back as part of a special session intended to address funding shortfalls for the state's health insurance program for the poor. The governor had criticized the move to bypass the usual process. The law cannot take effect until the legislative session formally ends, which probably will not happen until at least mid-2016. 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 state, Vermont and Montana already can prescribe life-ending drugs.