The California End of Life Option Act

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But Allows Case to Overturn Law to Move Forward / August 26, 2016

(Riverside, CA – Aug. 26, 2016) Compassion & Choices praised a Riverside Superior Court decision today to reject a preliminary injunction motion that was filed to suspend the state’s new medical aid-in-dying law, the California End of Life Option Act.

However, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia allowed the suit by the Life Legal Defense Foundation, American Academy of Medical Ethics and several physicians asking the court to overturn the law to move forward.

The End of Life Option Act gives terminally ill, mentally capable adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take to die peacefully and quickly in their sleep if their end-of-life suffering becomes unbearable. The law took effect June 9, 2016.

Judge Ottolia ruled that the legislature enacted the law properly during the healthcare special session in 2015, that the law’s definition of terminal disease is not unconstitutionally vague and that the law does not violate the Hippocratic Oath of “Do No Harm.”

“This ruling is a victory for terminally ill Californians and their families because now they know they won’t have to live through needlessly painful and prolonged deaths,” said John Kappos, a Newport Beachpartner in the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Compassion & Choices urging the court to deny the preliminary injunction. “While the court still has to decide the merits of the case, based on this ruling and prior court rulings in similar cases, we are confident we will prevail in the end.”

“This ruling is a validation for the families of terminally ill Californians like Christy O’Donnell and Jennifer Glass who bravely fought until their last breath to pass the End of Life Option Act,” said Compassion & Choices National Director of Legal Advocacy Kevin Díaz. “The court ruled that suspending the law would have done more harm to terminally ill Californians who want the option of medical aid in dying than the hypothetical harm to the physician plaintiffs who have not had any patients who have requested this option.”

Compassion & Choices’ friend-of-the-court brief, which the court accepted, is posted