California’s New ‘Right-To-Die’ Law Faces Challenges, Delays
Terminally ill patients will have to wait until at least April before they can use California's new law (ABX2-15) legalizing physician-assisted death in the state, the Washington Post reports (Chokshi, Washington Post, 10/19).
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the bill earlier this month.
Assembly member Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) introduced the legislation during a special session on health care financing after a similar measure (SB 128) stalled in July amid a lack of support in the Assembly Committee on Health.
ABX2-15 will allow some dying patients to end their lives through lethal doses of medication, as long as:
- Medication is self-administered;
- The patient is mentally competent; and
- Two physicians confirm the prognosis that the patient has six months or less to live.
Several amendments were added to the bill in the special session, including one that requires patients to reaffirm their consent within 48 hours prior to taking the lethal dose of medication.
The bill's authors also added an amendment to sunset the law after a decade, making it effective only until Jan. 1, 2026. However, the state Legislature could vote to extend it (California Healthline, 10/8).
According to Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News," the new law faces several delays and challenges (Orr, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 10/19).
For example, because the bill was passed during a special session, it cannot take effect until 91 days after the session ends, which will be in January 2016 at the earliest. That means the law will not go into effect until at least April 2016, according to the Post (Washington Post, 10/19).
It even could be pushed back to Nov. 29, 2016, or as far back as March 1, 2017, according to the Los Angeles Times (Skelton, Los Angeles Times, 10/19).
Meanwhile, the Secretary of State on Monday announced that opponents of the law have been cleared to begin collecting signatures for a referendum to overturn it ("KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 10/19). Opponents have until January 2016 to collect signatures (Washington Post, 10/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.