(Mercury News — May 15, 2016)
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia ruled that the Legislature violated the state constitution by passing the 2015 law during a special session called to address emergency needs in the state’s health care system…The judge gave the state attorney general five days to file an emergency appeal before a higher court…
The original legislation seemed destined for failure…But it was re-packaged as part of a special legislative session on health care funding, bypassing the Assembly Health Committee where it had stalled.
According to Modern Healthcare, “It’s likely Attorney General Xavier Bacerra will appeal Ottollia’s decision. It’s also possible that Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democratic -controlled Legislature, which is in session through August, could move to re-pass the law in regular session to settle the procedural objections.”

(Scroll down for articles)

California releases first data report on End of Life Options Act
(California Department of Public Health — June 27, 2017)
According to the report, 111 people died after taking the drugs prescribed under the law.
Unlike other official reports from states permitting doctor-prescribed suicide, there is no information about whether any patient was referred for “counseling.”  Also lacking is information about the end-of-life concerns expressed by patients, whether or not a doctor or other health care provider was present at the time of death, whether there were complications, etc.  While the report indicates that 10 patients qualified for the lethal drugs due to “other underlying illnesses,” there is no information about what those illnesses were.  (In Oregon, for example, diabetes has been listed as an underlying condition which qualified the patient for the prescription.)

Text of California’s doctor-prescribed suicide law, the “End of Life Option Act.”

“Assisted-suicide law prompts insurance company to deny coverage to terminally ill California woman”
(Washington Times — October 20, 2016)
[Stephanie Packer] said she called her insurance company to find out why her coverage had been denied.  On the call, she also asked whether suicide pills were covered under her plan. “And she says, ‘Yes, we do provide that to our patients, and you would only have to pay $1.20 for the medication,'” Ms. Packer said.

Scroll down for additional articles

Saving Money on Medical Treatment in California
(October 5, 2015)
Governor Jerry Brown has signed the “End of Life Option Act,” transforming doctor-prescribed suicide into a medical treatment in California. The law, which failed to pass during the regular session, was introduced during an extraordinary session called by the governor to deal with Medicare costs. The stated purpose of that session was to “stabilize the General Fund’s costs for Medi-Cal.”   There is no doubt that permitting doctors to prescribe a deadly overdose of drugs to patients will save money for California. But at what cost to vulnerable patients?

The law will take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns its special session on healthcare.

Here is what will happen under the “End of Life Option Act:”
Points to consider

“California coroners have issues with new assisted death law”
(PolitiCal — October 7, 2015)
The head of a group representing county coroners in California said there are some serious problems that need to be addressed…One is what to list on death certificates as the immediate cause of death.

“NDY Denounces Governor’s Decision on Assisted Suicide Bill”
(Not Dead Yet — October 5, 2015)
Governor Brown’s message accompanying his action states that he “carefully read” materials from opponents such as “those who champion disability rights,” but he nevertheless seems to have missed key facts.

(August 18, 2015)
Three days after a San Francisco Superior Court judge upheld the enforcement of California’s law barring assisted suicide, proponents of doctor-prescribed suicide introduced another bill (AB 15) to permit the practice in California.  A similar bill stalled in the Assembly in July.  It is the eighth such bill to be introduced in California since 1994.
Text of AB 15

Despite efforts by assisted-suicide activists to capitalize on the death of a 29-year-old California woman who moved to Oregon for doctor-prescribed suicide, California lawmakers failed to pass SB 128.  When it became clear that the bill, scheduled for a vote in the 19 member Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday, July 7, did not have the votes necessary to advance it, its sponsors cancelled the committee vote. Thus, the bill is now considered a two-year bill and could come up for consideration through 2016.

But proponents may not wait until 2016. There is another strategy they may employ to circumvent the usual legislative process. That strategy is referred to as “gut and amend.” It uses a bill that has already made its way through various votes and, at the last minute, strips its entire content, leaving only the bill number. Completely different language — which need not have any relationship to the content of the original bill — is then inserted. The bill, as amended, is then ready for a vote without having to go through committees where it would be unlikely to pass.

“Gut and amend” has been successful in some cases.  However, when it was attempted in 2006 to pass a doctor-prescribed suicide bill, it failed.

A doctor-prescribed suicide bill was introduced in California on January 21, 2015.  Senate Bill 128 titled, the “End of Life Option Act,” is the seventh such bill to be introduced in California since 1994.
Text of SB 128 (as amended 6/16/15)
Analysis of SB 128 (as amended 6/16/15) [PDF]

Scroll down for past attempts to legalize assisted suicide in California


“VHA warns California clinicians on assisted suicide”
(Clinical Psychiatry News — August 11, 2017)
According to the VHA (Veterans Health Administration):
Clinicians may not support PAD through any means, including referrals and evaluations, and federal funds may not be used for PAD.
Clinicians cannot fill out forms supporting PAD.  However, they must not hinder the release of medical records when requested by an outside provider.
Patients can seek PAD outside of the VHA system if they wish.  Patients who ask about PAD must be told that the VHA doesn’t offer the service.
If a patient makes a request regarding PAD, the VHA clinician must explore the source of the patient’s request and respond with the best possible, medically appropriate care that is consistent with legal standards and is legally permissible.

“Filipinos sound off on California’s legalized assisted suicide”
( — July 12, 2017)
“Advance directives from patients/patients’ families as well as Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) are required for EOLA [End of Life Options Act]” said Sutter Memorial Medical Center nurse Charina Gellaco-Quiambao.
However, policy analyst Kathi Hamlon of the Patients Rights Council clarifies that “neither advance directives nor the POLST form are required by the EOLA.  In fact it is against federal and state laws to require patients to sign these documents.”

“New report on California aid in dying law”
(ALS forums — June 2017)
Patients are receiving insufficient information about what their dying experience will likely bel
According to the California Department of Public Health, 20 ALS patients took their own lives under the state’s “aid in dying” law during the first six months of the law’s effect.
“The quality of information provided to PALS [Patients with ALS] is often bad.  For example, PALS are often provided insufficient information…”
This often results in confusion leading to fear that the disease will lead to death from choking.  Patients are not informed that most ALS patients will die a peaceful death.  But, when told they will suffocate to death, they opt for doctor-assisted suicide unnecessarily.

“Over 100 Californians ended their lives under state’s right-to-die law”
(Mercury News — June 28, 2017)
Data reflects first six months of the laws operation.
“We are really shocked at how much information is missing,” said Marilyn Golden, senior policy analyst at the Berkeley-based Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund.  Among Golden’s many concerns was missing information about the reasons the person decided to use the law. Was the person afraid of losing his or her autonomy; was if because of financial worries; was it concern about being a burden? .Also lacking was the time of death after ingesting the drug and whether anyone witnessed the death, etc.
But, unless the state legislature changes the law, that information is not required to be collected.

“CA Hospitalized (Dying) Mentally Ill OK for Assisted Suicide”
(National Review — October 18, 2016)
California has promulgated a regulation to assure that the mentally ill who have been ordered hospitalized in California have access to assisted suicide if they are dying and deemed able to make medical decisions.

“My aunt’s struggle with assisted suicide: There was death, but not enough dignity”
(Los Angeles Times — August 14, 2016)
It was a surreal day…The pharmacy had promised to get the drugs to us by 2:30pm.   We waited. We called.  The package arrived at 5.  Thousands of dollars of lethal medication had been handed to an Uber driver to deliver.

“Death Doctor to Charge $2000 for Suicide Prescription”
(National Review — June 5, 2016)
Lonnny Shavelson is — or was — a part time emergency room physician and photo journalist.  Now, he’s going to be a death doctor for pay….
[H]e once witnessed what can only be described as a murder of a disabled man by a Hemlock Society suicide assister — and did nothing about it — as he reported beginning at page 92 of his book….

“NDY Letter Opposing CA SB 1002 Assisted Suicide Hotline Bill”
(Not Dead Yet — March 22, 2016)
We are writing to oppose SB 1002….There is no way to limit callers to people who are terminally ill…Anyone could call, including people who would formerly have been referred to a suicide prevention hotline or people who want to learn exactly how to get away with ending the life of a family member.
More on Disability Perspective

“Pharmaceutical Companies Hiked Price on Aid in Dying Drugs”
(KQED — March 22, 2016)
When California’s aid-in-dying law takes effect this June, terminally ill patients who decide to end their lives could be faced with a hefty bill for the lethal medication.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals, the company that makes the drug most commonly used in physician-assisted suicide, doubled the drug’s price last  year, one month after California lawmakers proposed legalizing the practice.
More on drugs used for doctor-prescribed suicide

“Californians Can Choose to Die — With the Help of Taxpayers”
(U.S. News & World Report — March 22, 2016)
California’s aid-in-dying law contains a provision allowing doctors and hospitals to opt out of helping terminally ill patients access medications that would help them hasten their deaths, but that same exemption will not be carved out for state taxpayers.
The state government plans to assist in the cost of providing life-ending medications and doctor visits using $2.5 million already quietly tucked into Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget in January.
More on drugs used for doctor-prescribed suicide

“New California Right-To-Die Law To Take Effect In June”
(San Francisco CBS local — March 10, 2016)
State lawmakers adjourned a special session on health care Thursday, paving the way for California’s law allowing physician-assisted suicide to take effect in 90 days.

“What Gov. Jerry Brown’s Veto of ‘Right to Try’ Means for California’s Terminally Ill Patients”
(Ricochet — November 10, 2015)
Had the California Right to Try law been approved, terminally ill patients under the care of their physician, who had exhausted all treatment options and who did not qualify for a clinical trial would have been permitted to seek treatments that had successfully completed basic safety testing and continued to be part of the FDA’s ongoing approval process.
But no sooner had the ink dried on Gov. Brown’s signature approving the state’s highly-controversial Right to Die bill, he vetoed AB 159, the California Right to Try Act.  And he did so despite the fact that the legislation had almost unanimous bipartisan support from both legislative chambers.

“The vulnerable will be the victims”
(USA Today — October 20, 2015)
California required legislative sleight of hand to pass physician-assisted suicide in a special legislative session that bypassed committee votes…Oregon reports that pain doesn’t even make the top five reasons people seek doctor-assisted suicide.  Instead, people are afraid of losing autonomy and dignity.  Notably, they’re afraid of becoming a burden on others.
In the face of a youth-worshipping country that marginalizes the sick and dying, we should resist making the vulnerable feel like a burden — not make it easier for them to kill themselves.  Dignity doesn’t come from the illusion of power and control, but from mutual dependence and love.

“Doctor-prescribed suicide is never the answer”
(Washington Examiner — October 19, 2015)
The disability community has been trying to have honest end-of-life conversations for years…Legalizing assisted suicide sends the message that feeling like a burden is not only an acceptable reason for suicide, but a justification for our health care system to provide someone the lethal means…Professional peddlers of the “dignity” and “compassion” myths tell policymakers and the public that there hasn’t been a single case of abuse in states where these laws have been on the books.  This is dangerous fiction.  Truth is, the system wasn’t set up to find any.

“California Doctors Get Advice On How to Provide Aid in Dying”
(KQED — October 12, 2015)
Compassion & Choices, the advocacy group that let the charge for legalization in California, is spearheading the education campaign.

“Oregon claim of assisted suicide safeguards has critics”
(CalWatch — October  9, 2015)
A key argument spurring Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent decision to sign a bill allowing physician-assisted suicide in California, and the Legislature’s desire to enact such a law, was that a similar law had worked well in Oregon…But what was rarely acknowledged in the California media is that the Oregon law — while wining positive notices from that state’s media — has a solid core of skeptics who complained of skewed or inadequate data backing up assertions that the safeguards work.

“Governor should have talked to Holland before signing bill”
(Press Democrat — October 7, 2015)
By:  Theo Boer, Professor of Health Care Ethics at Kampen University in The Netherlands.
In 1994, the Dutch were the first in the world to officially legalize assisted dying…I was convinced that legalizing assisted dying was the wisest and most respectful route…Hearing of Brown’s decision, and without doubt any of his good intentions, my thoughts go back to our own pioneering years.  As I said, we have been naive.
More on The Netherlands

“California coroners have issues with new assisted death law”
(PolitiCal — October 7, 2015)
The head of a group representing county coroners in California said there are some serious problems that need to be addressed…One is what to list on death certificates as the immediate cause of death.

“Go west, old man! Go west!”
(CAREFUL — October 6, 2015)
California is America’s most unequal state in terms of well-being.  The well-to-do in Silicon Valley will enjoy all the safeguards of the law; the strugglers in Central Valley will fall through its cracks…The law’s restrictions will almost certainly be wedged open with lawsuits fought over exceptional cases.

“NDY Denounces Governor’s Decision on Assisted Suicide Bill”
(Not Dead Yet — October 5, 2015)
Governor Brown’s message accompanying his action states that he “carefully read” materials from opponents such as “those who champion disability rights,” but he nevertheless seems to have missed key facts.

“Right-to-Die Laws: What Pharmacists Need to Know”
(Pharmacy Times — September 26, 2015)
Because California pharmacists are already required to counsel a patient receiving a new medication, the End of Life Option Act would also apply to patients receiving the 2 most commonly prescribed medications used in these situations: secobarbital or pentobarbital.
More on drugs used for doctor-prescribed suicide

“SF Judge Upholds Law Prohibiting Physician-Assisted Suicide”
(NBC Bay Area — August 14, 2015)
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith upheld the enforcement of California’s law barring assisted suicide, saying that granting the petition would be creating a judge-made law….

“Judge Tosses Challenge to CA’s Assisted-Suicide Ban”
(Courthouse News Service — July 27, 2015)
San Diego Superior Court Judge Gregory Pollack threw out a plaintiff’s case, ruling that “it’s up to the Legislature or the people to change the law.”  In his ruling, Pollack called assisted death quicker and less expensive than prolonging treatment and said there is a much greater potential for its abuse.
The plaintiffs said they will appeal.

“Right-to-Die Bill Unlikely to Pass in 2015 after Stalling in Assembly”
(California Healthline — July 8, 2015)
According to a Sacramento Bee poll of 15 or the 19 committee members, just four said they would support the bill in its current form.  Meanwhile, it found that at least seven members planned to oppose the bill in the hearing, while others planned to abstain from the vote.

“Struggling with a life and death issue”
(Sacramento Bee — July 8, 2015)
Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego is a key liberal opponent of SB 128.
“You think about this as a choice,” she said.  “But we have a health care system that is set up to cut costs.”
Referring to the class divide, Gonzalez said that helps explain why Democrats from more affluent areas backed SB 128, and Democrats representing poorer regions killed it.

“The Riggs Report: Aid-in-dying bill hits religious roadblock”
(KCRA, — July 8, 2015)
Rather than see the bill die, the authors pulled it from the agenda.  SB 128 will now become what is called a two-year bill, meaning that it won’t come up for votes again until next year.
That gives backers more time to round up support in the Assembly.  It’s also entirely possible that the legislation could re-surface this summer as part of an entirely different bill.  It’s a process known as “gut and amend” that allows bills to gain new life by being inserted into a stripped-down bill.

“Disabled rights advocates fight assisted suicide legislation”
(USA Today — June 28, 2015)
When he was 19, Anthony Orefice hit a telephone pole on his motorcycle going 100 miles per hour.  Doctors told his family he wouldn’t survive….As California legislators consider a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to get prescriptions to end their lives, disability rights advocates are speaking up in opposition.  They worry that if it becomes law, depression and incorrect prognoses may lead people with serious disabilities to end their lives prematurely.
More on disability perspective

“Will suicide bill die a natural death?”
(San Francisco Chronicle — June 24, 2015)
When [California] Senate Bill 128, which would legalize physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, passed the state Senate, supporters hailed the measure’s success as a sign of its inevitability….It turns out reports of the measure’s slam-dunkedness were greatly exaggerated.

“Right-To-Die Bill Passes Senate: Unknown How Gov. Brown Will Vote”
(CBS Sacramento — June 4, 2015)
California’s right-to-die bill passed the state senate on a 23 to 14 vote ahead of a legislative timeline…,SB 128 now goes to several committees, then to the assembly….Governor Jerry Brown will have to make the final decision. He has not weighed in on the issue.

“Doctors Medical Center Closure Shows Struggle of Hospitals that Serve the Poor”
(Capital Public Radio — April 20, 2015)
She [Joanne Spetz, professor of Health Policy Studies at UC San Francisco] says hospitals that serve the poor may continue to struggle in the new world of health care. The Affordable Care Act reduces payments to hospitals serving the uninsured.

“Coercion risk clouds euthanasia bill”
(San Diego Union Tribune — April 20, 2015)
“Perhaps the most significant problem is the deadly mix between assisted suicide and profit-driven managed health care…Again and again, health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and managed care bureaucracies have overruled physicians’ treatment decisions.”

“Hidden Side Effect of Cancer Treatment: Big Bills”
(KQED — April 14, 2015)
Middle-income patients are — more than ever — feeling the weight of financial burden….High deductible health plans and soaring drug prices are to blame.
More on cost containment

“The National Council on Independent Living — latest organization to oppose Senate Bill 128”
(April 13, 2015)
It reinforces stereotypes that depending on others for assistance with activities of daily living is not dignified, which the disability community strongly opposes.

“Suit Seeks to Exempt Physicians From Assisted Suicide Law”
(New York Times — February 11, 2015)
A cancer patient and five doctors filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to exempt physicians who help terminally ill patients end their lives from a California ban on assisted suicide.

“We should think twice about ‘death with dignity'”
(Los Angeles Times — February 1, 2015)
As someone who supports all those other liberal causes, yet opposes physician-assisted suicide, I’d ask my fellow progressives to shine a cold hard light on this issue. We have been the target of a decades-long branding campaign that paints hastening death as an extension of personal freedoms….The movement is also pushing to expand the means of hastening death to include lethal injections delivered by physicians.

“Woman Mistakenly Declared Dead Died Trying to Escape Morgue Freezer, Lawsuit Alleges”
(Huffington Post — April 4, 2014)
A California family who claims a loved one was prematurely declared dead, and then “frozen alive” while trying to escape a morgue freezer, has filed a lawsuit against the hospital.

“Protect Secret Assisted Suicides!”
(National Review — September 6, 2013)
Compassion & Choices — once known by the more accurate name Hemlock Society — is in the well paid, but non profit, business of promoting assisted suicide.  Cut to California’s SB 62 that would add to current law requiring reporting of deaths caused by medical “gross negligence” to proper authorities, a requirement to report deaths caused by overdose of federally controlled substances — the drugs most commonly used in assisted suicide.
Text of SB 62

“Assisted suicide fraught with consequences”
(Sacramento Bee — July 14, 2013)
The topic of legalizing assisted suicide reappears every few years in California….Cost is always a concern. As the health care industry evolves, cost of care is becoming an increasingly prominent decision point, which in turn prompts more attempts by cost-minded administrators and HMOs to cut these costs however they can.

“Nurse refused to give CPR to elderly woman who later died”
(Los Angeles Times — March 3, 2013)
On a 911 tape released by the Bakersfield Fire Department, a nurse at Glenwood Gardens, a senior living facility, refused to give an elderly woman CPR.  The nurse said it was against the facility’s policy.
Note: The woman who later died was in the independent living facility — not an assisted living or skilled nursing facility.  She did not have a do-not-resuscitate order.

“Steve Lopez: End of life case in New Mexico may affect California”
(Los Angeles Times — August 14, 2012)
Tucker [Kathryn Tucker, legal affairs director for Compassion & Choices] said California’s statute on assisting suicide is similarly vague, and if the New Mexico court rules in favor of allowing aid in dying, “it could have persuasive influence in California.”

“Organ Donor Service firm Sierra Medical Services claims right to unplug donors”
(Examiner — May 8, 2012)
Peter Woods experience is a cautionary tale about a seldom profiled reality surrounding organ donations.  His wife, Gloria Woods, was critically injured in an automobile accident.  Much to Woods surprise, Sierra Donor Services informed him that, since Gloria had opted to be a donor on her California Driver’s license, Sierra “had the right to make the decision to remove Gloria Woods from life support and then to harvest her organs.”

“Defense in assisted suicide: Woman unaware vet wanted to die”
(Orange County — March 29, 2012)
Elizabeth Barrett was helping an 86-year-old friend take his medication — not assisting in his suicide, according to her attorney.  An autopsy revealed that Jack Keoncy died from the combined effects of the drugs Oxycodone, fluoxetine, and alprazolam, said Jim Amormino, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

“Wishing for the right to make that final exit”
(Los Angeles Times — December 18, 2011)
Kathryn Tucker, legal director for Compassion & Choices, says her group hasn’t given up on pushing to give Californians access to aid in dying [doctor-prescribed suicide], but she said it’s more likely to happen through legal action than legislation.

“Two People, Two Deadly Diseases, Two Opponents United Against Assisted Suicide.” (5/14/07)
AIDS patient Walter Park explains, “I don’t want to see the authority of the law tipping the balance of physicians and medical professionals in the wrong direction by giving the medical corporations they work for a further incentive to save money this way.”

“To the north, euthanasia up,” (Oakland Tribune, 3/9/07)
Based on Oregon’s official reports, about 525 Californians would kill themselves each year if AB 374 passes, and that number could increase to about 735 each year if California follows Oregon’s lead.

Bill would force Catholic nursing homes to permit assisted suicide
(First Things, 3/2/07)

“Assisted suicide backers gain a big ally,” (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/15/07)

“Lawmakers to reintroduce bill on doctor assisted suicide” (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/12/07)

“The language of death.” (LA Times, 2/12/07)

2007-2008 California Assisted-Suicide Bill (AB 374)

The 2007-2008 California assisted-suicide bill (AB 374), called the “Compassionate Choices Act,” failed to gain passage.

Background, text & analysis of 2007-2008 “Compassionate Choices Act” (AB 374)

2005-2006 California Assisted-Suicide Bill

On June 27, 2006, California’s latest assisted-suicide proposal (AB 651, the “Compassionate Choices Act”) failed — marking the fifth time since 1988 that assisted-suicide advocates have failed in their attempts to transform the crime of assisted suicide into a medical treatment in California.  Previous failed attempts took place in 1988, 1992, 1995 and 1999.

Assemblywoman Patty Berg and Assemblyman Lloyd Levine were the co-sponsors of the “Compassionate Choices Act.” It was originally AB 654 but, using a procedure known as “gut and amend,” it was renumbered AB 651).  The bill was modeled on Oregon’s assisted-suicide law.

Analysis and text of  “California Compassionate Choices Act” (6/16/06)

LULAC National Board Votes to Oppose California Doctor Assisted Suicide(4/6/06)
“Once again, the Latino community doesn’t want Assisted Suicide. The Disability community does not want Assisted Suicide. The poor and uninsured do not want Assisted Suicide.”
LULAC is the largest and oldest Latino civil rights organization in the United States.

California Latinos overwhelmingly oppose assisted suicide (3/7/06)
According to Angel Luevano, State Director for LULAC, “This poll confirms what LULAC has said all along–our community does not want doctor-assisted suicide.”
LULAC, the nation’s oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization, has expressed outrage at assisted-suicide advocates.  “Doctor-assisted suicide is incompatible with basic human rights and Latino values…LULAC will not stand on the sidelines while assisted suicide advocates misrepresent the opinions and moral views of the Latino community for their own political goals.”  (LULAC Press Release, 5/11/05)

“Death trumps choice,” (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/6/05). “What if you knew that legalizing assisted suicide meant that sick and disabled people, who don’t ask to die, nonetheless would be killed?”