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California judge overturns physician aid-in-dying law

[JURIST] Judge Daniel Ottolia, of Riverside County Superior Court, ruled against California's End of Life Option Act [text] on Tuesday, which allowed physicians to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients.

The suit was brought by the Life Legal Defense Foundation [advocacy website], a Christian legal organization that opposes abortion and assisted suicide.

Ottolia ruled [press release] that the End of Life Option Act was procedurally unconstitutional because the act was passed during a special legislative session meant to address health care. Ottolia said [Courthouse News report] that assisted suicide is not considered to be health care.

Alexandra Snyder, the executive director of the plaintiff organization, said in the press release that the plaintiffs were satisfied by the ruling. "The court made it very clear that assisted suicide has nothing to do with increasing access to health care and that hijacking the special session to advance an unrelated agenda is impermissible."

California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra [official profile] told Courthouse News, "We strongly disagree with this ruling and the State is seeking expedited review in the Court of Appeal."

Last month Hawaii's governor signed [JURIST report] legislation allowing for physician aid in dying. In January the Department of Health and Human Services created [JURIST report] a new division to protect the religious beliefs of health care workers. Last September New York's highest court ruled [JURIST report] against physician assisted suicide.

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