San Diego, California - California is the fifth state in the nation to allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives using doctor-prescribed drugs after Governor Jerry Brown signed one of the most emotionally charged bills of the year today.

Brown, a lifelong Catholic and former Jesuit seminarian, announced that he signed legislation approved by state lawmakers after an emotional and deeply personal debate. The measure applies only to mentally sound people and not those who are depressed or impaired. Until now, Brown had refused to comment on the issue.

San Diego State University Business Ethics Lecturer Wendy Patrick can discuss questions surrounding this new law, including:

  • The medical ethics surrounding the bill which includes requirements that patients be physically capable of taking the medication themselves, that two doctors approve it, that the patients submit several written requests and that there be two witnesses, one of whom is not a family member
  • Separation of church and state concerning the fairness (or not) of government to intervene or not intervene with a person’s own decision to live or die
  • Explanation of religious groups’ responses and advocates for people with disabilities who opposed the measure, saying it legalizes premature suicide and puts terminally ill patients at risk for coerced death

Wendy Patrick,Business Ethics Lecturer, San Diego State University