Physician assisted suicide faces legal challenge in California

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Almost a year after Governor Brown signed the bill legalizing the practice of physician-assisted suicide in the state, the law is now coming under fire from a group of doctors who are taking it to the courts. This past week a judge ruled that while he would not put the practice of physician assisted suicide on hold, he will allow the lawsuit to proceed. A small, but important step in this case.

According to the lawsuit: The Act violates the equal protection and due process guarantees of the California Constitution in that it fails to make rational distinctions between [terminally ill people who qualify under the law], and the vast majority of Californians not covered by the Act.”

The lawsuit raises legitimate questions surrounding the constitutionality of the law that went into effect this past June. The plaintiffs who filed the claim point out correctly that the California law lacks serious protections which could open up the practice to serious issues like coercion. A legitimate concern that has been proven in states like Oregon where the practice has been legal for almost two decades.

This dangerous law is very similar to what we have seen proposed in Maryland. Both contain language that come directly from the national organization Compassion and Choices. Neither have any requirements for mental health screenings, nor do they have any type of protections in place  for our most vulnerable populations such as the elderly and the disabled.

These are concerns we expect to see raised during the upcoming legal battle in California over physician-assisted suicide. The law shows us the reality of many concerns over this practice in the states that have legalized it.

We know that similar legislation once again will be filed and debated in Maryland this year and we can expect it to look a lot like the law passed in California which is already under fire.

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