The California Court of Appeal has overturned a lower court’s ruling from May 2018 which held that the state’s assisted suicide law was unconstitutional. The law was passed during a special legislative session to improve the health and medical system in California. However, the legal battle surrounding this law could be prolonged because the issue to be decided exceeds that of its unconstitutionality.
Passed in 2015, the law allows adults with a life expectancy of six months or less to obtain medication to end their lives.
The recent legal decision has not ruled on the fundamental issue. Magistrates have simply estimated that doctors had no right to sue to block the law and failed to show they were harmed as they could choose not to help the terminally ill to die. The law will therefore take effect.
In 2017, official statistics highlighted 374 terminally ill patients who requested end-of-life medication in the first full year since the law came into force.
Assisted suicide is authorised in the District of Columbia and six other states, namely Oregon, Colorado, Montana, Vermont, the Washington and Hawaii.