California legitimizes assisted suicide, as a bill has been signed into the law on Monday October 5, by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown.
Despite extreme opposition from religious and disability rights groups, the “right-to-die” bill which was passed by the Californian lawmakers in September met success. With the passing of this law, California becomes the fifth state of the U.S. where assisted suicide is legal. The law will come into effect on January 1, 2016.
In a statement which accompanied the signing of the bill notice, the Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, declared that he has been keenly looking into both the sides of the controversial bill. Jerry Brown is an ex- Roman Catholic seminarian.
“I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. 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.”
The law was able to gain popularity after the high-profile case of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, who was suffering from terminal brain cancer. Brittany moved to Oregon so that she could terminate her life as assisted suicide is legal in Oregon. Apart from Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and Montana, are the other states where assisted suicide is legal.
According to the law, the candidate for the assisted suicide must submit requests in writing for life-terminating drugs. The request must have approval of at least two doctors if they deem the mental condition of the candidate to be competent, diagnosed with a terminal disease, and he or she is expected to live up to no more than six months. After the request is granted, the candidate must take the drugs himself in the presence of at least two witnesses, one of the witnesses should not be a relative of the candidate.
The bill and now law met strong criticism from religious groups principally from the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church and its affiliated groups framed strong opposition to this bill, nonetheless, Jerry Brown who is a Catholic himself had to come down in favour of the bill.