California governor signs hard-won right-to-die legislation

The bill Brown announced signing on Monday gives professional sports teams the exclusive right to conduct charitable gambling by selling raffle tickets known as 50-50.


He added he wouldn’t deny that right to others. The crux of the matter is whether the State of California should continue to make it a crime for a dying person to end his life, no matter how great his pain or suffering.

Modeled after an Oregon law enacted in 1997, the law was inspired by Brittany Maynard, 29, the former Bay Area resident with brain cancer who moved to Portland to seek aid in dying.

Mr. Brown, a Catholic who trained at… “I have considered the theological and religious perspectives that any deliberate shortening of one’s life is sinful”, he wrote.

Opponents said the bill legalizes premature suicide, but supporters called that comparison inappropriate because it applies to mentally sound, terminally ill people and not those who are depressed or impaired. It includes requirements that the patient be capable of taking the medication themselves and that two doctors approve it. Doctors in Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana already can prescribe life-ending drugs.

The bill, supported by the California Academy of Sciences and the California District Attorneys Association, passed the Assembly 62-14 and Senate 26-13.

Co-sponsored by the Oakland Zoo, which collected 10,000 signatures from visitors, the bill is similar to a law Brown signed in 2011 banning the sale of shark fin soup, in that it aims to use California’s economy to slow the decline of an iconic species.

The law will take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns its special session on health care, which may not be until next year.

State voters in 1992 rejected a broader proposal that would have allowed physicians to administer lethal injections to the terminally sick.


Contact Lisa M. Krieger at 650-492-4098.

Ellen Pontac Debbie Ziegler