On 9 June 2016 legislation will be implemented in California allowing terminally ill people the right to request life-ending medication from their doctor. The bill was approved on 11 September 2015, the same day that an Assisted Dying Bill was defeated in the House of Commons in the UK. California is the largest American state to be covered by an assisted dying law, following Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.
In response to the implementation of California’s End of Life Option Act, Sir Patrick Stewart, Patron of Dignity in Dying, said:
“In California, where I have lived and worked for many years, millions of people now have the ability to die with dignity in the event of terminal illness. It is an absolute disgrace that, as a Briton, I am denied this right at home.”
Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, added:
“This is a transformative moment for the cause of assisted dying globally. The government of California listened to the public – 65% of whom supported an assisted dying law1 – and now 38 million more Americans are covered by such legislation. 50 million Americans now have a choice over their deaths, should they be terminally ill, that every single person in Briton is denied.
“The UK is being left behind. It is a national embarrassment that dying people in this country are denied choice and control at the end of their life. Last September, MPs voted to defeat an assisted dying bill in the UK, despite 82% of the British public supporting such a law2. It’s time our politicians listened to the people they claim to represent, and allow terminally ill people the right to die with dignity.”
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Notes to Editor
Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.