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California Senate Health Committee Approves SB 128, End of Life Option Act

March 26, 2015

By George Eighmey, President, Death with Dignity


“Some years ago, my precious brother Jeff died a death I would not wish on anyone. Yesterday my spirits were lifted.

“At the Senate Health Committee Hearing on SB 128, California End of Life Option Act, I was privileged to witness the powerful testimony of families who, like my own, had to stand like giants in a moment after they were just ordinary people. Those brave people who provided testimony in support of SB 128 spoke for their loved ones. And they stood for us all.

“It was a landmark day in California as the Senate Health Committee approved SB 128. This is one of several hurdles the bill faces, but California is poised to catch up to Oregon in this push for greater choice in how we meet end of life challenges.”

California End of Life Option Act hearing

This first-hand account from yesterday’s California Senate Health Committee Hearing on SB 128, California End of Life Option Act, comes from our supporter Kate P., a Sacramento, California, resident.

It was, indeed, an emotional hearing. Along with hundreds of others in attendance, I was moved by the powerful personal testimonies. These stories highlighted what we know from the Oregon experience: Death with Dignity as one of several end of life options provides peace of mind and control for the terminally ill while safeguarding against coercion for those who are vulnerable. SB 128 would allow patients who are mentally competent and have fewer than six months to live, as determined by two physicians, to obtain prescriptions for medication to end their lives in a humane and peaceful manner, while protecting the vulnerable with strict guidelines and procedures.

The Health Committee approved the proposed Senate Bill 128, California End of Life Option Act. I was pleased to be instrumental in working with both bill sponsors, State Senators Lois Wolk and William Monning, to craft the law.

You can help to make this bill become law:

  • Thank the bill sponsors. Call, email, or send a letter to SB 128 sponsors, Senators Monning (D-Carmel), and Wolk (D-Davis), in appreciation of their leadership on the issue.
  • Thank the Senators voting Aye. The bill moved out of this committee by a vote of 7 to 2 along party lines. Contact Senators Hernandez (D-LA/West Covina, Committee Chair), Hall (D-LA/South Bay), Mitchell (D-Culver City), Pan (D-Sacramento), and Roth (D-Riverside), particularly if you are in their district, to express your appreciation for their courageous vote.
  • Share your story. Heartfelt personal stories were a crucial part of the testimony in favor of the End of Life Option Act. Let us know how you got involved in the Death with Dignity movement or why you support California’s proposed legislation by completing this simple form.
  • Make a contribution. We remain very optimistic the law will pass, but for that to happen we need your support. It is thanks to you that we are able to do our work in promoting Death with Dignity laws in California and elsewhere. Your gift will go a long way in promoting SB 128 as it moves along through the legislative process. You can make the difference. Thank you.

The End of Life Option Act will next get a hearing in the Judiciary Committee on April 7. We’ll be there again, continuing to work with the bill sponsors to promote the bill’s passage.

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Afterword: Physician-Hastened Dying Concepts

Political Fund Brings Advocacy, Strategy to Aid in Dying Policy Reform

The Death with Dignity Political Fund is the political arm of the Death with Dignity family of organization, a 501(c)4 nonprofit that lobbies for Death with Dignity bills and partners with local organizations to build the political capitl to get laws passed. For example, we were the only national organization who worked with the local organization, Patient Choices Vermont, throughout the 10-year period it took to make legislative change. We worked in California to help draft and amend the End of Life Option Act, and we assisted sponsors to prepare for meetings and hearings. This behind-the-scenes political leadership is how we intend to bring Death with Dignity laws to the remaining 46 states that lack them.