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California Right-to-Die Law Kicks in With 4 Terminal Cases

Image: California Right-to-Die Law Kicks in With 4 Terminal Cases
California Gov. Jerry Brown gestures during a community event in Sacramento, California. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

By    |   Thursday, 09 Jun 2016 12:20 PM

California's "right-to-die" law took effect Thursday with at least four people considering their options as they deal with terminal diagnoses.

California became the fifth and largest state to pass so called "right-to-die" legislation this week. The End of Life Option Act adopts a legal process for patients to obtain aid that would lead to their death, NBC News reported.

The new law states that patients must be informed that they can obtain lethal prescriptions with the option of not taking them, so they do not feel obligated to move forward once they begin the process, the news site said.

The law also requires that patients be mentally competent; have a prognosis of less than six months to live; and are physically capable of ingesting the drugs without help from another person.

The last measure is to prevent euthanasia, which requires direct lethal action by another person, NBC News noted.

"I've watched my sister and my father and my son-in-law die from cancer," Helen Handelsman, 85, told the Mercury News. She was diagnosed in 2013 with late stage breast cancer. "It was morally wrong to keep these people alive when there was no hope they would survive. And the pain can be so horrible."

Stewart Wobber, 91, a Los Altos Hills businessman, told the newspaper he is suffering from a chronic lung disease that has left him in hospice care with an oxygen tank.

"My lungs are collapsing," Wobber told the Mercury News, adding that the law gives him "another choice. I lay in bed wondering how to find out how to close my life if I want to."

Allyne Hammer, 74, a former union activist from Santa Cruz, told the newspaper she would take advantage of the act if she needs it. Hammer has been fighting an incurable blood cancer since 2010.

"I am comforted by the fact that I can control my suffering in the end," she said. "That's what the law offers me."

Matt Chaney, a 55-year-old from Lafayette who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in 2001, has little control of his arms and hands, and his speech is deteriorating, according to the newspaper.

"Being able to end my life on my terms is an option I'd like to have available," Chaney said to the Mercury News.

The nonprofit group Californian Against Assisted Suicide stated on its Facebook page Monday that it has formed a watchdog group to keep an eye on abuses of the new law.

"Californians Against Assisted Suicide — and its partners — will be monitoring loopholes, continuing to be a steadfast voice against the law, and providing resources for Californians to bring to light the potential for and examples of mistakes, misuse, coercion, and abuse," the group's statement said. "The coalition will also continue supporting partners and organizations that are educating interested parties about their options to opt out as permitted by the law."

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California's "right-to-die" law took effect Thursday with at least four people considering their options as they deal with terminal diagnoses.
california, right to die, law
Thursday, 09 Jun 2016 12:20 PM
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