California Lawmakers Introduce Right-To-Die Legislation

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Brittany Maynard, 29, terminally ill with brain cancer, ended her own life on Nov. 1, 2014. Her story helped spur California legislation that permitted the use of life-ending drugs for terminally ill patients with six months or less to live. (Compassion & Choices/BrittanyFund.org)

California lawmakers are promoting right-to-die legislation with the family of a terminally ill woman who moved to Oregon to legally end her life last year.

Brittany Maynard's mother and husband will be at the state Capitol on Wednesday to support a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to end their lives in California.

The 29-year-old Northern California woman had brain cancer. She argued in online videos that patients facing imminent death should be able to die on their own terms.

Maynard's family has been speaking publicly for the first time since her November death as lawmakers nationwide consider whether to allow doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs.

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The California proposal would require patients to take the fatal medication themselves. Previous efforts have failed after facing opposition from religious and medical groups.

"Why should someone who willingly wants to avail themselves of this option have to go to another state? It just adds to the suffering and challenge at an already difficult time," state Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) said Tuesday.

Opponents say some patients may feel pressured to end their lives if doctors are allowed to prescribe fatal medication. Religious groups have condemned aid-in-dying legislation as against God's will.

Monning co-authored the right-to-die legislation with Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis). It would be limited to mentally competent patients with less than six months to live and would require that they take deadly medication themselves without help from a doctor.

The bill is modeled on Oregon's law, which was approved by voters in 1994. Since then, 752 people ended their lives through the law, according to Oregon state statistics.

KQED Newsroom recently discussed Maynard and end-of-life choices.
http://youtu.be/pk0BbmY7EZU