The Death With Dignity movement has won another victory this week in the California Senate.
After weeks of debate, the End of Life Option Act cleared the California Senate on September 11. The bill will allow terminally ill patients with fewer than six months to live to end their own lives under physician supervision. Supporters now wait with bated breath while Governor Jerry Brown (D) makes the decision on whether or not the bill becomes law. He has not made any hints yet as to what his decision may be.
29 year-old Brittany Maynard was the inspiration behind this bill. Brittany felt forced to move from the Bay Area of California to Oregon when she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Oregon is one only five states that allow physicians to assist those who are terminally ill and wish to end their own lives.
A few weeks before ending her life, Brittany recorded a message for law makers. She calmly and coherently expressed her views on the issue while recognizing that the choice should rest with the individual most directly affected:
Each patient is different and deserves the autonomy and freedom to make these most personal choices for themselves.
The Death With Dignity bill supporters have had to fight hard to get the bill this far. While the California Medical Association dropped their opposition to the bill and the bill was brought to the Senate, the bill was left by the wayside when it did not get enough votes to move to Assembly. During a special legislative session on health care in August, new life was breathed into the bill, and, this month, it passed in a 10-2 vote. October 11 is the next important date for the bill. Governor Brown has until then to decide to veto the bill or sign it into law.
I have long questioned why human beings are not afforded the dignity we give to our pets. I wonder if Governor Brown has a dog?