SACRAMENTO - SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers are making a new push to allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives after previous efforts stalled amid religious opposition.
Democratic legislators introduced the bill, which allows doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs, in a special session on health care convened by Gov. Jerry Brown and were expected to announce their plan for passing it Tuesday.
Religious groups and advocates for people with disabilities opposed a nearly identical bill this year, saying it goes against the will of God and put terminally ill patients at risk for coerced death. The measure passed the state Senate but stalled in the Assembly.
The right-to-die movement has been galvanized by the highly publicized case of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, a California woman with brain cancer who moved to Oregon to legally take her life. She argued in widely viewed online videos that she should have been able to access life-ending drugs in her home state.
But no state has passed aid-in-dying legislation despite bills introduced in at least two dozen states. Doctors are allowed to prescribe life-ending drugs in Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana.
Advocates also have turned to courts, where they faced recent defeats in New Mexico and San Diego, where the judge said the issue should be resolved by state lawmakers.
The earlier California bill stalled in the Assembly Health Committee. Sens. Lois Wolk of Davis and Bill Monning of Carmel could not get support from fellow Democrats on the panel who lost parents to cancer and who were uncomfortable with allowing patients to kill themselves.
The new bill would bypass that committee. Brown called the special session to address funding shortfalls for programs providing health insurance to the poor and home health aides, but lawmakers are using the session to advance other contentious legislation related to health care.
The right-to-die advocacy group Compassion and Choices has said it would attempt to qualify a 2016 ballot measure if they lose in the Legislature.