Last month BioEdge reported on the decision by a California county court judge to overturn the state’s assisted suicide law. Since then, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed an appeal to the county court, and asked the 4th District Court of Appeal to allow the law to stay in place while the “appeals process” took place. But the district court refused, and on Friday Riverside County Superior Court judge Daniel A. Ottolia issued a formal judgement that deemed the law to be “unconstitutional”. Legal experts say that this means the law has been overturned -- for now.
“Until and unless the law is reinstated by action of the court of appeal or California Supreme Court, it has been ruled unconstitutional and is therefore void,” Stephen Larson, an attorney for the group suing to invalidate the law, said in an email to The Los Angeles Times.
Becerra is expected to file appeal to a higher court, but he is yet to do so.
Experts say that it is unlikely that the decision will affect assisted suicide in California in the long term. Even if the appeals court upholds Ottolia’s decision, the state Legislature could pass a similar law, perhaps with additional safeguards. The law has strong support in the Legislature and among the public. A 2015 survey conducted by UC Berkeley found that 76% of Californians supported allowing terminally ill patients to take their own lives.
“I’d be surprised if the law doesn’t stand in the long term,” Nelson told The Times.
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