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California Senate Committee Moves to Assess Budget Impact of Medical Aid-in-Dying Bill

Supporters of Legislation Express Confidence Appropriations Committee Will Approve Bill Soon

(Los Angeles, CA – May 11, 2015) Supporters of a California bill that would allow terminally ill adults the option of medical aid in dying are confident the Senate Appropriations Committee will approve it after the committee today moved the bill for a routine assessment of its budget impact.

After a hearing attended by hundreds of bill supporters, the committee moved to place the legislation, called the End of Life Option Act (SB 128), in a “suspense file” pending an assessment of its fiscal impact on the state’s General Fund. SB 128 would give mentally competent, terminally ill adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can take to die painlessly and peacefully to end unbearable pain and suffering in their final days.

“We are very optimistic that End of Life Option Act will clear this final committee hurdle before a Senate vote because similar legislation in other states has had minimal budgetary impact,” said Compassion & Choices California Campaign Director Toni Broaddus. “Clearly, legislators are hearing the voices of terminally ill Californians in desperate need of more end-of-life options.”

If the Senate Appropriations Committee approves SB 128, it would be eligible for a vote on the Senate floor. The deadline to pass bills originating in the Senate is June 5. If the Senate passes the legislation, it will then be sent to the Assembly, where the deadline pass it is Sept. 11.

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, four other states authorize medical aid in dying: Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico. These states’ aid-in-dying policies have been proven to be good, safe medical practice.

California voters support the medical option of aid in dying by more than a 2-1 margin (64 percent vs. 24 percent). 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. Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old Californian who had terminal brain cancer, brought international attention to this issue when she had to move to Oregon to utilize its death-with-dignity law last November. In the final weeks of her life, Maynard partnered with Compassion & Choices to launch a campaign to make aid in dying an open and accessible medical option.