Capitol Alert

Assisted death opponents concede defeat in referendum drive

Debbie Ziegler holds a photo of her daughter, Brittany Maynard, the California woman with brain cancer who moved to Oregon to legally end her life, during a Capitol news conference to announce the reintroduction of assisted death legislation on Aug. 18, 2015.
Debbie Ziegler holds a photo of her daughter, Brittany Maynard, the California woman with brain cancer who moved to Oregon to legally end her life, during a Capitol news conference to announce the reintroduction of assisted death legislation on Aug. 18, 2015. The Associated Press

A group aiming to overturn California’s new law allowing terminally-ill patients to obtain lethal drugs said Monday that it did not collect enough signatures to qualify a referendum for the November ballot.

“Submissions are being made in each county today, but it does not appear that we will have sufficient signatures,” proponent Dr. Mark Hoffman said in a statement released by Seniors Against Suicide.

A spokesman for the group said they were able to gather several hundred thousand signatures from people opposed to the law, but were still short of the 365,880 needed to bring the issue before voters.

California lawmakers passed the assisted death law last fall through a special session on health care, after an earlier version encountered opposition in a key committee. It will not take effect until 90 days after the special session concludes, which could be as late as Nov. 30 of this year.

Critics of the law argue that it has insufficient safeguards in place for vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and low-income Californians without health insurance.

“We will explore other options, including legal action to protect vulnerable seniors, the infirm and the disabled from being pressured to end their lives prematurely because others consider them to be a burden or might benefit financially from their death,” Hoffman said. “We believe that every life is valuable and is entitled to protection."

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

  Comments