Capitol Alert

Opponents of assisted death law seek referendum

Emotions flow in Assembly debate on assisted-death bill

Members of the California Assembly spent nearly two hours in sometimes tearful debate over a bill that would legalize physician-assisted death for the terminally ill. The measure passed and now faces the Senate, where it has passed before. Its fat
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Members of the California Assembly spent nearly two hours in sometimes tearful debate over a bill that would legalize physician-assisted death for the terminally ill. The measure passed and now faces the Senate, where it has passed before. Its fat

One day after a deeply reflective Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation allowing doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients, opponents of the controversial measure have launched a campaign to overturn the law.

On Tuesday, a group called Seniors Against Suicide filed paperwork with the attorney general’s office seeking to bring the assisted death proposal before voters in November 2016. They will need to collect 365,880 valid voter signatures by Jan. 3 – 90 days from the enactment of the law – to qualify the referendum for the ballot.

Supporters of assisted death argued that providing a choice over when to end their lives would bring dignity to the dying. But the Catholic Church, disability rights advocates and some medical professionals fought the measure in the Legislature, raising concerns that it devalued life and might put the state’s most vulnerable patients in harm’s way.

Backers of the referendum effort could face an uphill battle with voters, 65 percent of whom favor the law, according to a new Field Poll released this week.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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