Slippery Slope: California Assisted Suicide Bill Clears Hurtle


LOS ANGELES — A California appeals court overturned a lower court order that had imperiled the state’s assisted suicide law, but a longer legal fight may loom because the ruling skirted the larger issue of whether the legislation was unconstitutional.

A three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeals in the city of Riverside on Tuesday did not rule on the merits of the case because it found doctors opposed to the law had no right to sue to block the law. The court said the doctors failed to show they were harmed because they could choose not to help terminally ill patients die.

The End of Life Option Act allows adults to obtain a prescription for life-ending drugs if a doctor finds they have six months or less to live.

The ruling reversed Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia’s judgment in May that declared the law unconstitutional because it was adopted during a special legislative session that was supposed to address improving the medical system and health of Californians.

The appellate ruling written by Presiding Justice Manuel Ramirez has no immediate impact on the current status of the law because the appeals court had put the trial court judgment on hold during the state attorney general’s legal challenge.

News that the lower court ruling had been reversed buoyed advocates of doctor-supported death.

“Our patients will be tremendously relieved,” said Dr. Catherine Sonquist Forest, a family physician in Northern California who has six terminally ill patients considering the option. “Thousands across the state will find great solace in knowing this option is there.”

The ruling is probably not the last word on the matter and could set the stage for future legal actions. The case was sent back to the lower court and the lawsuit could be amended and refiled.

The court even spelled out how groups challenging the law might be able to show harm to plaintiffs.

For example, a district attorney who wanted to prosecute a doctor for helping a patient die or a hospital or medical group that sought to discipline an affiliated physician who assisted a death might be able to establish standing, the court said.

The Life Legal Defense Foundation, which represented the doctors, said it was disappointed and would consider its options. Other opponents of the law criticized the decision.

“Assisted suicide is not health care and places countless Californians at risk of deadly harm,” said Matt Vallière of the Patients Rights Action Fund. “Sadly the court’s ruling in this case … fails to protect vulnerable patients whose care has been compromised by this dangerous public policy.”

Supporters of assisted suicide said the ruling would strengthen their defense of the law in the future.

“But the harsh reality is this case is likely to last several more years because the plaintiffs are hell-bent on depriving … terminally ill Californians … (of) a peaceful death, free of unbearable suffering,” said attorney John Kappos, who represented Compassion & Choices, a group that supported the law.

While two justices ruled only on the issue of standing, Justice Marsha Slough dissented in part because she said the appellate panel should have ruled on the merits of the case and found the law was constitutional.

Slough said it was not a stretch for the Legislature to consider assisted suicide as an extension of a discussion on the efficiency of the health care system. She said there was no reason to “drag this case out” before finding lawmakers acted within their authority.

“We have a responsibility to expeditiously disperse the uncertainty this litigation has created for countless patients, family members, and loved ones, as well as physicians and workers in the health care sector,” Slough wrote.

In 2017, the first full year assisted suicide was legal, 374 terminally ill people took drugs to end their lives, California health officials said.

Original Article:

Read More:‘Death With Dignity’ Paving The Way For Forced Euthanasia

Read More:To Combat Growing Elderly Population, Doctors Make Death Drug Cheaper

Read More:One Step Closer To Euthanasia: Jesuit Governor Jerry Brown Makes ‘Assisted Suicide’ Legal In California

Read More:New Hampshire Lawmaker Suggests Euthanizing The Disabled

Read More:American Medical Association Slides Toward Support For Doctor Assisted Suicide: Here Come Death Panels

Read More:Australian MPs Plan To Vote In Favor Of Voluntary Euthanasia

Read More:Hearts Wax Cold: Doctors Clash Over Euthanizing The Mentally Ill In Belgium

Read More:Euthanasia As A Normal Procedure? Global Elderly Population To More Than Double By 2050

Read More:Medical Industry: Why Should WE Waste The Money And Time? – Google Now ‘Training’ Machines To Predict When Patient Will Die

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.