Suspension of California's aid-in-dying law leaves sick patients in limbo

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia last week refused to vacate a late May ruling that suspended California's 2016 medical aid-in-dying law. Ottolia had ruled that the law was improperly enacted. He set a hearing for June 29, however, to consider a separate motion by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra to reverse the decision.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia last week refused to vacate a late May ruling that suspended California's 2016 medical aid-in-dying law. Ottolia had ruled that the law was improperly enacted. He set a hearing for June 29, however, to consider a separate motion by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra to reverse the decision. Compassion & Choices, an advocacy group that promotes aid-in-dying, filed a notice of appeal late Friday and asked Becerra to uphold the group’s legal opinion that their appeal would trigger a stay of Ottolia’s judgment. Such a stay would reinstate the law pending further court action. The legal situation has left in limbo an estimated 200 patients who had already started the process of hastening their deaths. As of May 30, doctors had stopped writing prescriptions for the lethal medications and pharmacists had stopped filling them, leaving patients uncertain how to proceed. Opponents of what is sometimes called assisted suicide said the suspension "now opens the door to a discussion about how to better care for people at the end of their lives."