California assisted suicide law clears hurdle
case because it found doctors opposed to the law had no right to sue to block the law. The court said the doctors failed to show they were harmed because they could choose not to help terminally ill patients die.
The End of Life Option Act allows adults to obtain a prescription for life-ending drugs if a doctor finds they have six months or less to live.
The ruling reversed Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia’s judgment in May that declared the law unconstitutiona because it was adopted during a special legislative session that was supposed to address improving the medical system and health of Californians.
The appellate ruling written by Presiding Justice Manuel Ramirez has no immediate impact on the current status of the law because the appeals court had put the trial court judgment on hold during the state attorney general’s legal challenge.
News that the lower court ruling had been reversed buoyed advocates of doctor-supported death.
“Our patients will be tremendously relieved,” said Dr. Catherine Sonquist Forest, a family physician in Northern California who has six terminally ill patients considering the option. “Thousands across the state will find great solace in knowing this option is there.”
The ruling is probably not the last word on the matter and could set the stage for future legal actions. The case was sent back to the lower court and the lawsuit could be amended and refiled.
The court even spelled out how groups challenging the law might be able to show harm to plaintiffs.
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