SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers are pursuing right-to-die legislation after the highly publicized story of a young woman with brain cancer who moved to Oregon to legally end her life.
Democratic legislators are pushing to allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication nearly a decade after similar legislation failed. Terminally ill patients can legally take their lives in five states including Oregon.
Advocates for aid in dying are ramping up their efforts across the U.S. using the story of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old San Francisco Bay Area woman who ended her life in November. She argued in online videos and national media appearances that she should have had the right to die in California.
"Why should someone who willingly wants to avail themselves of this option have to go to another state?" said State Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, who will appear with Maynard's family to promote right-to-die legislation Wednesday. "It just adds to the suffering and challenge at an already difficult time."
Monning's bill is modeled off of Oregon's law, which was approved by voters in 1994. It would be limited to those with less than six months to live and requires patients take deadly medication themselves without help from a doctor.
Washington voters approved a similar law, while court decisions in New Mexico and Montana have legalized aid in dying.
The Vermont Legislature passed a law allowing terminal patients to end their lives in 2013, but similar efforts collapsed in other statehouses, including California in 2006, over opposition from religious and medical groups.
Opponents say some patients may feel pressured to end their lives if doctors are allowed to prescribe fatal medication. Religious groups have condemned aid-in-dying legislation as against God's will.