California judge overturns assisted suicide law

California judge overturns assisted suicide law
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A California judge on Tuesday overturned the state’s assisted suicide law, ruling that it was passed unconstitutionally.

Judge Daniel Ottolia of the Riverside County Superior Court ruled that lawmakers improperly passed the measure during a special legislative session on health-care funding, but did not rule against the legality of the law itself.

The law, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in 2015, permits doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to patients with six months or less to live.

Ottolia is holding his ruling for five days to give the state time to file an emergency appeal, which California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraColorado joins states adopting stricter vehicle emissions standard Overnight Energy: New controversies cap rough week for Pruitt | Trump 'not happy about certain things' with Pruitt | EPA backtracks on suspending pesticide rule EPA backpedals on suspending pesticide rule following lawsuit MORE said he plans to do. Becerra said in a statement that he strongly disagrees with the ruling.

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California is one of six states, plus Washington, D.C., that have legalized physician-assisted suicide. The laws cover nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population.

Stephen G. Larson, the lead counsel for a group of doctors that sued to block the law, told The Sacramento Bee that the group was “very satisfied” with the ruling.

"The act itself was rushed through the special session of the legislature and it does not have any of the safeguards one would expect to see in a law like this,” he said.

Supporters of the law say that it empowers terminally ill patients and gives them more dignity, while opponents argue that it is immoral and could negatively affect vulnerable patients’ care or lead to them being abused.

In the law’s first year, more than 500 Californians received prescriptions for life-ending drugs, according to Compassion & Choices, an assisted-suicide advocacy group.