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Right-To-Die Bill’s Long Path to Law

The turbulent and troubled nature of the discussion around California’s right-to-die proposal was summed up in the governor’s message when he signed it into law on Monday.

“In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death,” Gov. Jerry Brown (D) wrote in his signing message.

“I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain,” he wrote. “I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.”

Brown signed into law ABX2-15 by Assembly member Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton). It’s the bill formerly known during this year’s legislative session as SB 128 by Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), and it will allow terminally ill patients to seek medical help to end their lives.

For more on the law, see today’s news story.

The original bill by Wolk passed the state Senate but was defeated in the Assembly Committee on Health in July. That bill was shelved for the year.

Eggman introduced the same legislation under a different bill number in the special legislative session on health, move that generated considerable criticism from some who believed it didn’t belong in the special session. Both houses passed the bill in September.

That left it up to Brown, who struggled with the decision.

“I have carefully read the thoughtful opposition materials presented by a number of doctors, religious leaders and those who champion disability rights. I have considered the theological and religious perspectives that any deliberate shortening of one’s life is sinful,” Brown wrote.

“I have also read the letters of those who support the bill, including heartfelt pleas from Brittany Maynard’s family and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In addition, I have discussed this matter with a Catholic Bishop, two of my own doctors and former classmates and friends who take varied, contradictory and nuanced positions,” Brown wrote.

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