Access to Assisted Suicide May Soon Triple in US

'Death with dignity' bill headed to Calif. governor's desk
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2015 9:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – A bill to legalize assisted suicide has made it through California's legislature and will become law unless Gov. Jerry Brown decides to pull the plug on it. The bill passed the state Senate 23-14 after emotional testimony from "death with dignity" advocates including state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson. She testified that when her mother was dying of leukemia, she asked only to keep her dignity and not to die alone, reports the New York Times, which notes that that doctor-assisted suicide is already legal in Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington—and the California bill will triple the number of Americans who have that option. The bill's supporters include the family of Brittany Maynard, who moved from California to Oregon to die after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

It is not clear whether Brown will approve the bill, which faced opposition from organizations including the Catholic church and seniors' groups, who argued that the bill could lead to elderly people facing pressure to die from poor or greedy relatives, reports Reuters. To combat such pressure, the California bill—unlike the Oregon law it is based on—will require doctors to have private consultations with the patient who wants to end their life, the Times notes. Yesterday was a busy day for state lawmakers: A bill to regulate California's first-in-the-nation medical marijuana industry for the first time made it through the legislature just before a midnight deadline last night, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. (Read more assisted suicide stories.)

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