Appeals have begun.
Almost two years after it was enacted, the California Physician-Assisted Suicide Law has been overturned by Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia, deeming it unconstitutional. The judge cited the California Legislature’s passing the bill during a special session dedicated to health care issues as reason for being unconstitutional.
However, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has appealed the decision, saying that the aid-in-dying law is a health care issue and therefore appropriate to be part of the special legislative session.
Harry Nelson, a health care attorney in Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times that he thinks it’s unlikely the law will be overturned permanently, saying that even if the court’s decision stands, the Legislature would probably be able to reinstate the law with whatever changes the court deems necessary.
“It basically leaves the attorney general’s office with a really narrow window to do everything they need to do to get the court of appeals to intervene and uphold and continue the law,” Nelson told the media outlet.
The legislation made California the fifth state to legalize the End-of-Life Option Act. The act was recently discussed by Sarah Hooper, J.D., who is executive director of the UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science & Health Policy and adjunct professor of Law at UC Hastings College of the Law; Hooper co-presented with Lael Duncan, M.D., medical director of consulting services for the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California.
“Until and unless the law is reinstated by action of the court of appeal or California Supreme Court, it has been ruled unconstitutional and is therefore void,” Stephen Larson, an attorney for the group suing to invalidate the law, as reported by the San Diego Union Tribune.
As of this writing, it is unclear as to if the law will remain unconstitutional, will be reinstated or modified. Becerra said in a statement, as reported by The San Diego Union Tribune, that he is fighting the decision in the 4th District Court of Appeal.
Time and again, health care law and issues dominate the headlines.