State senators heard testimony today on a proposed bill that would allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients who request it. The testimony included a video from Brittany Maynard recorded 19 days before she took life-ending drugs.
In the video, Maynard implored California lawmakers to legalize “aid in dying.” Maynard, who had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, took lethal medication last year in Oregon, where the practice is legal.
"The decision about how I end my dying process should be up to me and my family under a doctor's care. How dare the government make decisions or limit options for terminally ill people like me. Unfortunately, California law prevented me from getting the end-of life-option I deserved," said Maynard, who died Nov. 1 at age 29.
Several people testified against the bill, including doctors who said the practice was incompatible with a physician’s role as a healer and warned that evidence from Belgium and the Netherlands, where physician-assisted suicide has been legal since 2002, showed that restrictions and safeguards meant to protect against abuse were difficult to enforce.
Disability rights advocates emphasized this point, arguing some people's lives would be ended without their consent, through mistakes or abuse.