California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed California’s right-to-die bill into law Monday, allowing terminally ill residents of the nation’s most populous state to end their own lives with the aid of their physician.
“The crux of the matter is whether the State of California should continue to make it a crime for a dying person to end his life, no matter how great his pain or suffering,” Brown said in asigning statement. “In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death.”
Brown continued, “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. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.”
California’s End of Life Option Act passed in the state Senate and Assembly last month, marking a huge victory for the “death with dignity” movement. The law will allow terminally ill patients to seek medical aid in ending their lives as long as they have been given six months or less to live by two doctors, provided a written request and two oral requests at least 15 days apart and are deemed mentally capable of making decisions about their own health.
Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington have also legalized the practice, while aid-in-dying is currently in dispute in New Mexico’s courts.
The California bill was inspired by Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old San Francisco Bay Area resident who gained national attention for her decision to move to Oregon to take advantage of the state’s longstanding aid-in-dying law. Maynard had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, but as a California resident, could not pursue end-of-life options at home.