[JURIST] The California Senate [official website] on Thursday voted 23-14 to approve a controversial right to die bill [SB 128 materials]. The bill would protect doctors who aide individuals with terminal conditions in dying. The bill’s impact is limited to patients who pass a mental competency test are have less than six months to live. The patients would also be given the option to self administer. The California bill is modeled after Oregon’s law, which more than 750 people have used to assist in death since it was passed. Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula stated he is worried that California will be known for death tourism [AP report] if the law passes. The bill now goes before the state Assembly.
The right to die [JURIST news archive] has been a contentious issue in the US and around the world. In April a South African judge ruled [JURIST report] that a terminally ill man has a right to assisted suicide with no legal or professional consequences for the participating doctor. In February the Supreme Court of Canada struck down [JURIST report] the country’s ban on medically assisted suicide. Also that month a group of patients and doctors filed a lawsuit in a New York court requesting a declaration [JURIST report] that physician-assisted suicide is not illegal under New York state law. In 2006 the US Supreme Court upheld Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act [JURIST report], making Oregon the only US state that allowed assisted suicide at that time. Vermont, Washington, New Mexico and Montana now also allow assisted suicide. Possibly the most contentious right to die case ended in 2005, when Terri Schiavo [JURIST op-ed] passed away following a heated legal battle between family members on whether to artificially maintain her life in a vegetative state.