Yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill allowing mentally competent, terminally ill patients to end life on their own terms, using drugs prescribed by their doctors.
We should all be glad he signed it.
There are religious conservatives who think taking your own life is an affront to God and that you have to let nature run its course — even when you’re deathly sick, in constant pain, and have no hope for recovery. They think the God who inflicted that pain upon you should be allowed to torture you as long as He wants.
Could they be any more cruel?
We’re not talking about people who are having fits of depression or who want to end their lives on a whim. We’re talking about patients whose lives aren’t going to get any better. They should have the right to die, having said their goodbyes, without anyone getting punished for it.
Remember: This isn’t a requirement. This law simply gives patients the option to die if that’s what they want. You may remember the story of Brittany Maynard, a young woman with brain cancer, who had to move to Oregon so she could end her life legally. Her mother applauded the legislation:
“I believe that this brings some meaning to my daughter’s death, and it doesn’t take away the pain, but it’s hard to describe,” [Deborah Ziegler] said. “It’s bittersweet, it’s bittersweet.”
Since her daughter’s death, Ziegler has said her daughter’s death is emotional and deeply personal. She has made passionate pleas to lawmakers since the passing, asking for them to pass the legislation.
And just in case you think the law might allow people to pressure a patient into suicide, it has plenty of precautions built in:
The bill [the governor] received includes requirements that patients be physically capable of taking the medication themselves, that two doctors approve it, that the patients submit several written requests, and that there be two witnesses, one of whom is not a family member.
Brown, a Catholic himself, deserves a lot of credit for taking a common sense approach here instead of following the dictates of his faith. He made the Church unhappy, but the government isn’t around to do the Pope’s bidding.
You can read the final version of SB-128 here.
Let’s hope other legislatures follow suit. There’s no reason this bill should be limited to only five states in the country.