On June 9, 2016, California will become the fourth state to allow doctors to assist terminally ill patients to commit suicide. Beginning on that date, residents of California can request a lethal prescription from their doctors.
The doctors must follow guidelines before prescribing the medication, but that has not stopped any controversy about the law.
Doctors and hospitals are allowed to opt out of providing the service and many have already done so according to the Sacramento Bee in "A better way to die? California's end-of-life law launches June 9."
Oregon, Washington and Vermont are the only other states with similar laws often called "Right to Die" laws.
Elder law advocates are often torn about these laws.
Many argue that terminally ill patients have a right to die with dignity and should be allowed to end their own lives when they want to instead of when a disease takes its final course. Physician assisted suicide allows people to pass away in the presence of their loved ones.
On the other hand, many believe these laws could potentially be abused if terminally ill elderly people are manipulated into suicide by the unscrupulous.
One thing is certain. Look for other states to confront pressure regarding whether to pass a similar law. Consequently, people who feel strongly one way or another should pay attention to what their legislatures might be up to.
Reference: Sacramento Bee (May 5, 2016) "A better way to die? California's end-of-life law launches June 9."