Lawsuit briefly blocking California assisted death law ends

SACRAMENTO (Calif.) -- A lawsuit that temporarily suspended a California law allowing adults to get prescriptions for life-ending medications in California has been formally dismissed by an appeals court. The gap was blamed for a drop in drug use in that year.

Lawsuit briefly blocking California assisted death law ends

SACRAMENTO (Calif.) -- A lawsuit that temporarily suspended a California law allowing adults to get prescriptions for life-ending medications in California has been formally dismissed by an appeals court. The gap was blamed for a drop in drug use in that year.

California legislators made the lawsuit moot when they extended the law to 2031 and reauthorized it. They also reduced the time before terminal patients with six months or less left can be given fatal drugs.

In 2018, 452 Californians were terminally ill. This was 22% less than the previous year when 577 people received lethal drugs. The number of those who received prescriptions for 2018 was 618.

667 people received prescriptions last year. Not everyone who got the drugs was able to end their life.

Compassion & Choices is a national advocacy group that supported the law. A Riverside County judge ruled in May 2018 that the state legislators acted inconstitutionally in passing the law in a special session that was devoted in 2016 to health care.

The suspension of Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia was placed three weeks before an appeals court reinstated law.

The advocacy group claimed that the ruling had halted the plans of around 200 patients who had started the process. It also caused confusion and fear among doctors and patients about the law being violated.

An alternative Riverside County judge ruled last year that the lawmakers acted properly and that doctors who tried to block it had no legal standing to challenge it. The court granted permission to the opponents to resubmit their complaint if they could locate patients who would like to be part of the lawsuit.

The legal battle was effectively over when the parties agreed late last week that the Legislature's recent authorization and extension of law, which was set to sunset in five more years, had ended. Monday's one-paragraph order by the 4th Appellate District Court of Appeal, accepted the parties' agreement without comment.

The reauthorized law will reduce the waiting time between when a patient requests medication orally and the date it is requested. It will be 48 hours starting January 1.

The amended law also removes the requirement for patients to sign final written attestations within 48-hours of receiving the medication.

The Life Legal Defense Foundation represented the opposing parties in the lawsuit but did not comment on Thursday.

Kevin Diaz, Compassion & Choices chief lawyer advocacy officer, stated that the End of Life Option Act was passed by the California legislature during a special session. "We have always believed that the California legislature passed the End of Life Option Act because medical aid is a palliative option to relieve intolerable pain." It doesn't really matter now because the Legislature reauthorized the law during a regular session.

California is among the 10 states and Washington, D.C. which allow medical assistance in dying. Other states include Colorado, Hawaii and Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico. Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Washington, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico.

You need to login to comment.

Please register or login.

RELATED NEWS