Compassion & Choices achieved an enormous victory on Friday when, after months of frenzied strategizing, campaigning and lobbying, California lawmakers gave final approval to the End of Life Option Act. Following emotional debate, the Assembly passed the bill with support 43 to 34 on Wednesday, and senators approved it on a 23 to 14 bipartisan vote on the final day of the legislative session. There is only one more important step before the Golden State has a death-with-dignity law – the governor’s signature. “Our hope, our fervent hope, is that Gov. Jerry Brown will sign this bill and bring relief to hundreds of dying Californians,” said Campaign Director Toni Broaddus in an NPR story on the landmark event.
Dozens of supporters, some in wheelchairs with oxygen tanks and C&C’s signature yellow t-shirts, closed their eyes and held hands as legislators debated the issue on the Senate floor. The news brought tears to the eyes of Christy O’Donnell, a C&C advocate and 47-year-old single mother dying from metastatic cancer, who testified in support of the bill before the Senate and the Assembly. “Bailey and I are crying tears of joy!” she said. “I do not want my daughter to carry with her forever the emotionally damaging memory of watching me die painfully over several days or weeks. I ask the governor NOW to open his heart and mind to signing this bill.”
“Passing this historic bill is a monumental victory for terminally ill Californians like Christy O’Donnell who just a want a way to end horrific suffering in their final days,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, who co-authored the nation’s first-ever death-with-dignity law in Oregon in 1997. This is the fifth attempt since 1995 to clear the legislature in California, and the magnitude of such a law in the nation’s most populous state will reverberate from coast to coast.
In 2013, Compassion & Choices committed to make aid in dying an open, accessible and legitimate medical practice in California within five years. But we only needed two years to be on the brink of achieving this historic milestone: Our top-notch campaigners, brilliant political tactics, visionary legislative champions and the colossal power of our storytellers fast-tracked the End of Life Option Act through the legislature in just eight months.
Senator Monning, one of the bill’s sponsors, thanked fellow lawmakers for “listening to the overwhelming public sentiment supporting this issue and responding with a sense of compassion and urgency” and commented to C&C’s California Political Director Charmaine Manansala, “ … This would never have happened without you and Compassion & Choices. What a team you and we have all built. Compassion is a powerful tool!”
California residents: Tell Governor Brown how crucial this law is for your state! And if you have a personal story to share, that can be particularly powerful — especially because he’ll be hearing a lot from the opposition. Contact his office and demand the full end-of-life options that most Californians want by phone (916.445.2841) , web, email ([email protected]) or postal mail:
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814