[JURIST] California lawmakers on Tuesday ended their legislative efforts to allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives in the state. The right-to-die bill [SB 128 materials] had been amended several times over the past half year. The law became hotly debated when Brittany Maynard [CNN backgrounder] moved from San Francisco to Oregon, where right-to-die laws are legal, so that she could die on her own terms after a brain cancer diagnosis was made. The California legislation would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to patients but the bill lacked support, especially among religious groups. Although the California legislation was passed by the state senate, it encountered opposition in the Assembly Health Committee [official website], which is a panel of several Democratic lawmakers from heavily populated Catholic districts in the Los Angeles area, where right-to-die legislation was strongly opposed.
The right-to-die [JURIST news archive] movement has been a highly contested topic across both the US and abroad the past few years. Originally, the bill mentioned above was approved [JURIST report] by the California Senate [official website] by a 23-14 margin last month, allowing doctors to aide individuals with terminal conditions in dying. In April a South African judge ruled that [JURIST report] 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 [official website] unanimously struck down [JURIST report] the country’s ban on medically assisted suicide. Also in February a group of patients and doctors filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in a New York court requesting a declaration that physician-assisted suicide is not illegal under New York state law.