California Law Withstands Referendum Threat

January 14, 2016

California’s new aid-in-dying law remains safe: A group aiming to overturn the End of Life Option Act failed to collect enough signatures to get their referendum on the November ballot.

“An overwhelming majority of Californians supports the End of Life Option Act,” said Compassion & Choices California Campaign Director Toni Broaddus. “Opponents simply could not inspire the people of California to take away options for people who are dying.”

Despite backing from the Catholic Church, which encouraged parishioners to sign petitions during mass, the effort fell short of collecting 365,880 signatures by the January 4 deadline. According to the California secretary of state’s website, the group that filed the petition raised less than $100,000 to try to overturn it.

California lawmakers passed the bipartisan aid-in-dying law last fall during a special session on health care, and it will take effect 90 days after the session ends sometime this year. C&C is already working on an access campaign, similar to those in Oregon and Vermont, to help inform people about the law. “We are utilizing all our resources to ensure every Californian has meaningful access, through their health care providers, to clearly understand the benefits and requirements of medical aid in dying as an end-of-life care option,” said Kat West, C&C’s national director of policy and programs. “We are educating both doctors and the public about the full range of options to relieve suffering at the end of life, including hospice, palliative care and medical aid in dying.”

The news of the failed referendum was a great relief to End of Life Option Act supporter Elizabeth Wallner, a single mom from Sacramento living with stage IV colon cancer that has spread to her liver and lungs.

“Death doesn’t scare me,” she said. “What scares me more is to have my only son and my family watch me die slowly and painfully. I don’t want this agonizingly traumatic image to be their last memory of me.”

C&C’s other recent efforts to broaden end-of-life options nationwide include a January 12 lobby day at the New York state Capitol in Albany and another coming up on January 26 at the Maryland House of Delegates in Annapolis. That event will feature a discussion with Barbara Mancini, who endured a year-long nightmare of being charged and prosecuted for “assisting in a suicide” because she handed her father his bottle of legally prescribed morphine. These events are a great way for people who believe in the importance of end-of-life autonomy to connect with and educate their elected representatives.

Our local work keeps expanding – check our state pages to see how you can get involved in your area!

Compassion & Choices
Media Contacts

Sean Crowley
Media Relations Director
[email protected]

Patricia A. González-Portillo
National Latino Media Director
[email protected]
(323) 819 0310

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