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California Governor, Jerry Brown, signs “right-to-die” legislation

Lone Tree Cemetery

Today, Governor Jerry Brown, a lifelong Catholic and former Jesuit seminarian, signed legislation allowing terminally ill people in California to take their own lives. California became the fifth state to allow terminally ill patients to use doctor-prescribed drugs to end their lives. Doctors in Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana already can prescribe life-ending drugs. The measure applies only to mentally sound people and not those who are depressed or impaired. According to, Brown stated:

“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,” the governor wrote in a signing statement that accompanied his signature.

The measure was brought back as part of a special session intended to address funding shortfalls for Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for the poor. The law cannot take effect until the session formally ends, which probably will not happen until at least mid-2016.

The California Legislature passed the bill last month. A previous version failed earlier this year, in spite of the highly publicized case of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old with brain cancer, who moved to Oregon to end her life.

Religious groups, including the Catholic Church, and advocates for people with disabilities opposed the measure, saying it legalizes premature suicide and puts terminally ill patients at risk for coerced death.

The bill includes requirements that patients be physically capable of taking the medication themselves, that two doctors approve it, that the patients submit several written requests and that there be two witnesses, one of whom is not a family member.

-Bill at

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