Assisted Suicide Law Tentatively Reinstated for California

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Washington, DC

California’s assisted suicide law was temporarily reinstated on Friday despite a lower court judge ruling the law unconstitutional last month.

The state’s Fourth District Court of Appeals reinstated the “End of Life Option Act” on Friday along with a July 2 deadline for any further objections to be filed, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Last month Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia ruled the assisted suicide law unconstitutional on the basis that it was passed during a special session of the state legislature that was not applicable to the bill.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has actively fought to retain the law. Learning of Friday’s ruling to reinstate it, he said, “Today the Fourth District Appellate Court granted our request for immediate stay in People ex rel. Xavier Becerra v. Ahn, reinstating California’s End of Life Option Act while litigation is ongoing.”

Becerra praised the decision as a “relief” to “California patients, their families, and doctors” and an “important step to protect and defend” the Act.

The law went into effect in June 2016. One hundred eleven people used the law to commit suicide in just the first six months after that.

The lawsuit to overturn the assisted suicide law was mounted as it went into effect in 2016. Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF), the American Academy of Medical Ethics, and a number of physicians joined in mounting the legal challenge Ahn vs. Hestrin. The Tribune reported that the lawsuit is based on violation of “due process and equal protection guarantees of the U.S. and California constitutions.”

In March of this year, LLDF “filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings seeking to have the law permanently enjoined and voided as unconstitutional,” according to a statement issued late last month.

“It’s really kind of a tragedy, but they use that kind of thing, difficult cases, folks who are suffering, to sway the hearts and minds of Americans, and people aren’t necessarily thinking it all the way through,” Patient Rights Action Fund development director Matt Valliere said of assisted suicide advocates. PRAF’s aim is to provide financial and strategic support in “opposing assisted suicide legalization efforts.”

Valliere has pointed to a group that has driven suicide legislation in California, “Compassion and Choices.” He called the group a “top-down, centralized organization, very well-organized and well-funded.”

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 

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