Appeals Court Upholds Judge’s Decision Overturning California Law Legalizing Assisted Suicide

State   |   Alex Schadenberg   |   May 24, 2018   |   1:59PM   |   Sacramento, CA

Last week, Riverside Superior Court Judge, Daniel Ottolia, overturned the California assisted suicide law when he ruled that the legislature acted outside the scope of its authority when it enacted the End of Life Option Act.

California passed the state’s assisted suicide law in a special health care funding session after the legislature failed to pass the assisted suicide bill in its normal session. Judge Ottolia, held that “the End of Life Option Act does not fall within the scope of access to healthcare services,” and that it “is not a matter of health care funding.”

The Fourth District Court of Appeals upheld the lower court decision. Therefore at this time the assisted suicide law is not in effect in California.

California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, filed an appeal of the decision to the 4th District Court of Appeal. According to the LA Times Becerra argued that:

“The enactment fell within the scope of the special session called, in part, to consider efforts to ‘improve the efficiency and efficacy of the health care system … and improve the health of Californians,’ “

Yesterday the Fourth District Court of Appeals upheld the lower court decision. NPR News reported:

California’s Fourth District Court of Appeals on Wednesday refused to stay last week’s decision by the Riverside County Superior Court, which ruled that state lawmakers should not have passed the law during a special session on health care funding.

Kaiser Health News reported that:

An appeals court on Wednesday refused to block a court decision that said a California law allowing the terminally ill to end their lives was passed illegally. California’s 4th District Court of Appeal refused to grant an immediate stay requested by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra. However, the court gave Becerra and other parties time to “show cause” — that is, provide more arguments as to why the court should grant the stay and suspend the lower court ruling. There was no immediate comment from Becerra’s office. (5/23)

The Court of Appeals stated in the decision that the majority agreed with denying an immediate stay of the decision while the minority wanted to grant an immediate stay of the decision. Therefore the Court of Appeals gave “real parties” 25 days to file a formal return as to why a stay should be granted.

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Since the California assisted suicide law was declared unconstitutional in how it was implemented and the Court of Appeals refused to stay the decision, therefore the California assisted suicide law is currently not in effect.

Compassion & Choices, a leading assisted suicide lobby group, states, in their press release, that the law remains in effect, despite the appeal court ruling.

I am convinced that C & C is baiting pro-assisted suicide doctors to continue prescribing lethal drugs to enable them to create a legal challenge to the decision that correctly found that the California assisted suicide law is unconstitutional.

Life Legal Defense Foundation is an organization working to prevent assisted suicide in California. Note: Alex Schadenberg is the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and you can read his blog here.