Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the End of Life Options Act, making it legal for terminally ill patients to end their life with doctor prescribed drugs.
California is now the fifth state in the country with a death with dignity law joining Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and Montana.
ABX2-15 is modeled after Oregon’s 1997 law, and will allow physicians to provide lethal prescriptions to mentally competent patients who are expected to die within six months.
The bill passed through the California Senate and Assembly last month, but there was uncertainty as to whether or not Brown would sign it.
Many were concerned that Brown’s past as a Jesuit seminary student would factor in to his decision.
Brown said he thought about what he would want in the face of his own death, and did not want to deny the right of choice to others.
Local resident Christy O’Donnell suffers from terminal cancer and has been a major voice in the fight to get ABX2-15 passed.
Cougar News spoke with O’Donnell last month when the bill passed the Assembly. It was an emotional moment for her, and she expressed hope to see Brown sign the bill in her lifetime.
She has yet to comment to Cougar News on the bill becoming law, but in a statement from Compassion and Choices, she said:
“I’m overjoyed for all the terminally ill people in California, who can now relax knowing they finally have the choice of aid in dying as one of their end-of-life options! No more worrying that they will suffer great physical and emotional pain at the end of their life when they have already suffered painfully for so long as a result of their terminal illnesses. Governor Brown, you have made me a proud Californian today knowing I live in a state where our governor acts in accordance with what his people need, want, and deserve. In this case, a peaceful and pain free death with their family.”
The law will go into effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns its special session on healthcare.
The earliest this could happen is January, and the latest could be November 2016.