California assisted suicide law is challenged in court

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The California assisted suicide law came into effect on June 9. Based on the 15 day waiting period, the earliest possible death is June 24. The Coalition Against Assisted Suicide has launched a legal case and have asked for an injunction stating that the California assisted suicide law violates the equal protection Act

The Jurist reported on the case with the following:

A group of five doctors and the American Academy of Medical Ethics (AAME) [advocacy website] filed suit [application, PDF] Wednesday challenging a physician-assisted suicide law. The End of Life Option Act would allow "terminally-ill" patients, an individual who, determined within reasonable medical certainty, is going to die in 60 days due to an incurable disease, to be given a prescription for a lethal dose of "aid-in-dying" drugs. Those challenging the legislation argue that, "[t]he Act violates the equal protection and due process guarantees of the California Constitution in that it fails to make rational distinctions between ['terminally ill' citizens] , and the vast majority of Californians not covered by the Act." They argue that the term "terminally ill" is unconstitutionally vague and for that reason the law would "deprive individuals the protection of previously-existing California laws against assisted suicide by unconstitutionally creating a class of persons again based on arbitrary, unreasonable, and irrational distinctions." Finally, they argue that the legislature lacked constitutional authority to legislate on the matter of physician-assisted suicide during an extraordinary legislative session.

Californians Against Assisted Suicide is a diverse, broad-based coalition of disability rights organizations, physicians, medical groups, palliative and hospice care specialists as well as faith-based organizations.