NRL News

California assisted suicide law is denounced by leading disability rights policy center

by | Jun 16, 2016

Announces national web resource for reporting abuses and other problems

DREDF_LOGOBerkeley, CA –– The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, a leading national disability rights law and policy center based in Berkeley, California, denounces the enactment of California’s End of Life Option Act, which went into effect on June 9.

DREDF is pleased to announce, along with our coalition partners in Californians Against Assisted Suicide, that the national organization Patients Rights Action Fund will launch a new web page where concerned individuals, family members, and friends can bring to light abuses, problems, and complications associated with assisted suicide laws. The new online resource is located at

California’s assisted suicide law, which is modeled on Oregon’s law, is marked by extraordinarily weak safeguards and oversight, posing great danger to many Californians with disabilities, as well as people with chronic and terminal illnesses, lower-income Californians, and to the general public.

DREDF and all our coalition partners, including the many California disability organizations that opposed this law, remain gravely concerned about it. The End of Life Option Act:

  • is conducive to elder abuse,
  • has very weak safeguards, allowing families to shop for other doctors to provide lethal drugs if the first physician says no, and endangering patients who receive terminal diagnoses that are often mistaken,
  • puts people with depression at risk, and does not require patients requesting lethal drugs to receive a mental health evaluation,
  • provides for no investigation of abuse, and
  • requires no neutral witness to be present when the lethal drugs are taken.

Because the dangers are so significant, many national disability organizations, plus the American Medical Association (AMA), also oppose the legalization of assisted suicide.

DREDF is part of the Californians Against Assisted Suicide coalition, which has worked against assisted suicide laws since 2005. The new California law allowing doctor-prescribed suicide received significant Democrat and Republican opposition in the California Legislature, particularly in the State Assembly.

It stalled in the Democrat-controlled Assembly Health Committee because of a significant failure to receive adequate support. The bill was later passed only through the use of an unusual legislative maneuver that placed the bill into a Special Legislative Session on healthcare funding that bypassed many established legislative protections.

Recent attempts to pass similar assisted suicide laws in at least fourteen other states, including Colorado, Nevada, New Jersey, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, and New Hampshire, have failed.

The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) is a national law and policy center, based in Berkeley, CA, dedicated to protecting and advancing the civil rights of people with disabilities.