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Advocates ask to intervene in CA medical aid-in-dying case, request dismissal

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Monday, September 25, 2023   

California's medical aid-in-dying law is back in court. Three patients with disabilities and two doctors are asking to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the law - and they want the judge to dismiss the suit.

In April, a coalition of disability rights groups and people with disabilities sued to stop the End of Life Option Act, claiming it is discriminatory and "coerces" people with disabilities into using medical aid in dying.

Jess Pezley is the senior staff attorney with Compassion & Choices, which supports the bill.

"It's not discriminatory to offer an additional end-of-life option," said Pezley. "And there's a lot of safeguards built in within the act to make sure that this law is not being used by people who do not want it. The only people who qualify for it are terminally ill with a prognosis of six months to live, and who have the capacity to make the decision."

California is one of ten states - plus Washington, D.C. - that allow doctors to prescribe medication that would allow mentally capable, terminally ill adults to peacefully end their suffering if they choose to take it.

Peter Sussman is a retired journalist and author from the Bay Area who said he lives with constant and disabling pain after a series of spinal surgeries. He said he supports medical aid in dying, and has joined the motion to intervene in the lawsuit.

"When my time comes and I am certified by doctors to be dying within six months, I do not want to die suffering needlessly," said Sussman. "The government shouldn't be able to tell me the manner of my own death."

The State of California, the defendant in the lawsuit, has also filed a motion to dismiss.

Earlier this year, the same judge dismissed a different challenge to the suit brought by the Christian Medical and Dental Association - after it reached a settlement with the state that said doctors who have a religious objection don't have to record a patient's request for medical aid in dying on their chart.



Disclosure: Compassion & Choices contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Health Issues, Senior Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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