(HealthDay News) — The California State Assembly approved a bill on Wednesday that would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medications to patients expected to die within six months.
That bill now moves to the state Senate, which must approve it by Friday. Gov. Jerry Brown has not yet indicated whether or not he will sign the bill into law. California would become the fifth state in which people are allowed to legally end their lives. Oregon, Vermont, and Washington already have passed laws allowing the practice, and Montana’s courts have authorized it.
The California legislation is modeled after the Death With Dignity law passed by Oregon voters in 1994, which made that state the first in the nation to allow some terminally ill patients to choose the time of their own death.
Supporters believe that California’s approval could add momentum to the adoption of right-to-die laws across the country. Opponents of the bill include religious groups such as the Catholic Church and advocates for the disabled.