The California Senate passed legislation Thursday that would allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients who request it. The bill, SB 128, now faces a series of tests in the state Assembly.
“Californians with terminal diseases should have the autonomy to approach death on their own terms,” said Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel), one of the bill’s authors, calling the vote a “historic step forward.”
The 23-14 vote in favor of the bill comes just weeks after the state’s powerful physicians' group removed its opposition.
The California Medical Association switched its position to neutral, after the authors added greater protections for doctors and hospitals. The bill now has language to defend health care providers against being fired, suspended, or prosecuted if they comply with patients’ wishes to hasten their deaths.
Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) says doctors who refuse to honor such wishes because of their personal ethics or beliefs would also be protected.