Life Legal attorneys appeared in court this morning on our challenge to California’s assisted-suicide law. We filed the lawsuit one year ago, shortly before the “End of Life Option Act” went into effect. Our opponents, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the Director of the California Department of Public Health, filed a motion to dismiss the case several months ago.
Today the judge denied the motion to dismiss, which means the case moves forward!
The End of Life Option Act strips vital legal protections from patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. The Act does not require patients seeking so-called “aid-in-dying” drugs to undergo a mental health evaluation, even though the majority of individuals who receive a terminal diagnosis experience depression, anxiety, or other treatable mental health conditions that could lead them to seek suicide.
State-sanctioned suicide sends the message that some lives are not worth living. California law now pits the financial interests of health care providers, especially in cases where the provider and insurer are the same entity, against the needs of patients. We have heard of cases where insurance companies will pay for lethal drugs but not for life-prolonging treatment.
Life Legal is also concerned that the assisted-suicide law has encouraged some physicians to set up niche clinics that only dispense prescriptions for lethal drugs. These physicians do not have any meaningful relationships with their patients apart from facilitating their deaths. Moreover, we have heard of numerous cases of individuals who have long outlived their “terminal” diagnoses.
“The End of Life Option Act is a dangerous law that exposes vulnerable individuals to direct and indirect pressure to commit suicide. Life Legal represents hundreds of physicians who are committed to walking through life’s challenges as advocates for their patients, yet who are concerned that those patients could succumb to pressure from family, insurers, and other health care providers to cut their lives short,” said Life Legal Defense Foundation Executive Director Alexandra Snyder. “Today’s ruling is confirmation that our claims have merit and deserve a fair hearing.”