Can your doctor help you die in California?
February 13, 2015
A group of cancer patients and doctors are suing the state of California, demanding that terminally ill people be allowed to obtain prescription drugs that will speed up their death if they find their suffering unbearable. [LA Times]
California law currently makes it a crime to assist another person in committing suicide. The lawsuit filed Wednesday in San Francisco County Superior Court argues that terminally ill patients who receive physician assistance in dying are not committing suicide.
“It is time for California to clarify that suffering, dying patients have the right to choose a peaceful death through aid in dying,” said Kathryn Tucker, co-counsel in the case. “Patients trapped in a dying process they find unbearable should be able to return to their physicians and ask for medication they could consume to bring about a peaceful death.”
The lawsuit states that the Legislature has not specifically prohibited assisted death, and that doing so would infringe on the liberties of patients. Shortly before the filing of the lawsuit, state lawmakers introduced a bill that would allow doctors to help speed up the process of dying.
Multiple cancer patients who are currently in remission have joined the lawsuit.
The suit also names California Attorney General Kamala Harris and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon as defendants.