Challenge to Calif.’s ‘Right-to-Die’ Law Fails To Qualify for Ballot
Opponents of a new California law (ABX2-15) legalizing physician-assisted death have failed to collect enough signatures to qualify a ballot referendum aimed at overturning the measure, AP/Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reports ("KXJZ News," AP/Capital Public Radio, 1/4).
Background on Law
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the bill into law in October 2015.
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 2015 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.
Because the bill was passed during a special session, it cannot take effect until 91 days after the session ends (California Healthline, 10/22/15).
Background on Repeal Effort
In October 2015, Seniors Against Suicide filed papers with the state Office of the Attorney General for a November ballot referendum seeking to overturn the law (California Healthline, 10/8/15). Later that month, the Secretary of State cleared opponents of the law to begin collecting signatures (California Healthline, 10/22/15).
The group had until Jan. 3 to collect 365,880 voters' signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot (California Healthline, 10/8/15).
Ballot Initiative Effort Fails
On Monday, Seniors Against Suicide announced that it did not gather enough signatures to qualify the initiative.
Mark Hoffman, a spokesperson for the group, said opponents collected about 200,000 signatures. He added, "We're saying it doesn't look like we got the significant number of signatures we needed ... but our effort does not end there."
He said opponents are considering a lawsuit challenging the passage of the law during the state's special legislative session on health care. Critics say the law was ineligible to be adopted during the special session because it does not pertain specifically to the purpose for which the session was convened.
Toni Broaddus, Compassion & Choices' California campaign director, said, "We did not believe [opponents] could get the signatures they needed," adding, "I don't think there was a strong sense of support by Californians to" repeal the law (McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 1/4).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.