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Compassion and choices update on death and dying legislation



California Legislature Passes Historic End Of Life Bill

We would like to present a legislative update on the end of life option in California.  Although Florida has not introduced such a bill, we want you to know about issues impacting aging adults.  Special thanks to Compassion and Choices, a non-profit organization committed to having the best death possible, for providing the following update.

Sacramento, Calif. – Sept. 11, 2015.  For the first time in five tries since 1995, the California legislature has passed a bill to allow terminally ill adults facing unbearable suffering the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication that they could take to painlessly die in their sleep.

The Senate passed the by a vote of 23 to 14. On Wed., the Assembly passed AB2-15 with bipartisan support 44 to 35. Gov. Jerry Brown has 12 days to sign or veto the bill after he receives it from the legislature, which is expected to be the end of next week. If he takes no action in 12 days, the legislation automatically becomes law.

“Passing this historic bill is a monumental victory for terminally ill Californians like Christy O’Donnell who just a want a way to end horrific suffering in their final days,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, a lawyer, former ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant who coauthored the Oregon Death With Dignity Act. “We are optimistic Gov. Brown will sign this law because he is a compassionate person who understands Californians in agony cannot wait another year.”

“I thank our legislature for responding to the voices of terminally ill Californians who are pleading for the option of medical aid in dying,” said Compassion & Choices Campaign Director Toni Broaddus. “We urge Gov. Brown to sign this bill to give them this option to die peacefully if their end-of-life suffering is too great to endure.”

The legislature’s passage of the End of Life Option Act comes 10 months after the death of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old Californian with terminal brain cancer. She brought international attention to this issue when she had to move to Oregon to utilize its death-with-dignity law last November. In the final weeks of her life, Maynard and her family partnered with Compassion & Choices to launch a campaign on Oct. 6, 2014, to make aid in dying an open and accessible medical option.

“I am very grateful to the senators who have honored Brittany’s dying wish by voting to give other dying Californians facing intolerable suffering the option to die painlessly and peacefully as she did,” said Maynard’s husband, Dan Diaz, who lives in Alamo. Diaz testified before the Assembly last week in support of the End of Life Option Act and has met with legislators urging them to vote for the bill since the introduction of the first version of the legislation, SB-128, in January.

The End of Life Option Act is closely modeled after the death-with-dignity law in Oregon, which has worked well for 17 years, without a single documented case of abuse or coercion. Currently, three other states authorize medical aid in dying: Washington, Montana and Vermont.

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