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California Assembly to Vote on Medical Aid-in-Dying Bill

Second Assembly Committee This Week Approves Bill Inspired by Brittany Maynard

(Los Angeles, CA – Sept. 4, 2015) The California Assembly will soon vote on a bill approved by two committees this week that would give terminally ill adults the option to request and take prescription medication to painlessly and peacefully die in their sleep if end-of-life suffering becomes unbearable.

The Assembly Finance Committee today paved the way for the full Assembly vote by approving the legislation, the End of Life Option Act (ABX2-15), by a vote of 5 to 3. On Tuesday, the Assembly Public Health and Developmental Services Committee approved the bill on bipartisan vote of 10 to 3. If the full Assembly passes ABX2-15, two Senate committees and the full Senate would have to approve the legislation. The Senate approved a similar version of the bill, SB-128, in June. The deadline to pass all bills in the California legislature before the end of this year is September 11.

“Based on the growing legislative support for the End of Life Option Act, we are confident the Assembly will quickly pass the End of Life Option Act, so the Senate can vote on it,” said Toni Broaddus, California Campaign Director. “Dying Californians should have all possible options at the end of life.  They can’t wait for another legislative session to get relief. The public overwhelmingly agrees — new polling makes it clear that Californians think medical aid in dying should be an option for those few who need it.”

Three out of four Californians (76% percent) support the End of Life Option Act, including 82 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of independents and 67 percent of Republicans, according to a new poll released Thursday by the Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) at the University of California, Berkeley. Yet, two decades after Oregon voters passed our nation’s first death-with-dignity law in 1997, California still has not authorized this end-of-life option.

“Polling show a strong, growing majority of all Californians support this bill,” said Senate Majority Whip Lois Wolk, a coauthor of the End of Life Option Act. “As we now move to the Assembly floor with bipartisan support, I am confident that these voices will be heard. I am grateful that my colleagues in the Assembly have recognized the urgency in passing a medical aid-in-dying bill this year.”

“I am very appreciative of my Assembly colleagues for supporting this important legislation,” Senator Monning said.  “This bill will give terminally ill Californians the option to determine the quality of their final days of life based on their own personal beliefs.  Over 75 percent of Californians support this bill, and it is an issue that deserves to be considered by the entire Legislature.”

Hundreds of End of Life Option Act supporters have crowded the State Capitol halls clad in yellow T-shirts throughout the week, making last minute visits to urge their assemblymembers to support the bill.

The End of Life Option Act was inspired by Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old Californian with terminal brain cancer who moved to Oregon to utilize its death-with-dignity law last year. The End of Life Option Act is closely modeled after the death-with-dignity law in Oregon, which has worked well for 17 years, without a single documented case of abuse or coercion. Currently, three other states authorize medical aid in dying: Washington, Montana, and Vermont. These states’ aid-in-dying policies have been proven to be good, safe medical practice.

Dan Diaz, the widower of Brittany Maynard praised the Assembly Finance Committee members for “listening to their constituents.”

“The careful and pragmatic approach by our elected officials in the special session hearing exemplifies their dedication to improving the lives of our citizenry,” he said.