California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Wednesday he will appeal a judge’s ruling late Tuesday overturning the state’s law allowing assisted suicide.
“We strongly disagree with this ruling and the state is seeking expedited review in the Court of Appeal,” Becerra said Wednesday.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia ruled that the Legislature violated California’s constitution by passing the End of Life Option Act in 2015 during a special session to address emergency needs in the state’s health care system, not aid in dying.
Ottolia’s ruling kept the law in place and gave the state attorney general five days to file an emergency appeal of the ruling before a higher court, where a longer stay could be granted.
The law allows physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to Californians diagnosed as having less than six months to live. At least 111 terminally ill people, mostly suffering from cancer or neuromuscular disorders such as ALS and Parkinson’s Disease, have used it to end their lives. California was the fifth state to take such a step.
The law was inspired by Brittany Maynard, 29, the former Alamo resident with brain cancer who moved to Portland in 2014 to seek medical aid in dying because California had not passed its law.
Opponents including the Life Legal Defense Foundation, American Academy of Medical Ethics and several physicians argued the law devalues life and puts vulnerable people at risk.
Critics convinced Ottolia that the while the state constitution permits the governor to issue proclamations to convene extraordinary legislative sessions, the Legislature is prohibited from enacting bills that are not the specific subject of the proclamation.
If the state is unsuccessful in defending the law, Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, vowed to re-introduce the measure before the full legislature.