California Assisted Suicide Struck Down


SACRAMENTO, CA — Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia has overturned California’s law legalizing assisted suicide and ruled it was illegally passed during a special session devoted to other topics.

Judge Ottolia indicated the End of Life Option Act was improperly passed during a special session that was supposed to address Medicaid funding shortfalls, services for the disabled and in-home health support services. The judge ruled that the state legislature should not have approved the assisted suicide law because the subject of the law fell outside the grounds of the special session. However, Judge Ottolia is holding his judgement for five days which allows the state to file an emergency appeal, something California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who says he strongly disagrees with the ruling, says he plans to do.


Signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015, the assisted death law allows doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to patients with six months or less to live, but plaintiffs say it lacks safeguards to protect against abuse.

California health officials reported that 111 terminally ill people took drugs to end their lives in the first six months after the law went into effect June 9, 2016.

California is one of seven states and the District of Columbia that currently has legal protections for assisted suicide. They account for about one-fifth of the U.S. population.

“During a special session to address Medicaid shortfalls, legislators pushed a bill designed to kill people,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “It seems clear that a session devoted to help people receive medical care so they can live is incompatible with a bill to facilitate their death. Special sessions are just that – a session devoted to a specific topic. Since the assisted death bill was not part of the session addressing Medicaid, the judge correctly ruled it was improperly passed,” said Staver.

Used with the permission of Liberty Counsel.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.