Wrestling with his own morality, California Governor Jerry Brown put himself in the shoes of terminally ill people. That’s how he decided to go ahead with the proposed legislation on Monday, allowing people in America’s most populous state to take their own lives.
Brown said the emotionally charged bill forced him to consider “what I would want in the face of my own death.” He acted on the movement after discussing the issue with many people, including a Catholic bishop and two of his own doctors.
“I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill,” the governor wrote in a signing statement that accompanied his signature.
The bill makes California the fifth in the U.S. to allow terminally ill patients to use doctor-prescribed drugs to end their lives. The measure applies only to mentally sound people and not those who are depressed or impaired.
There are naysayers towards the bill, including the Catholic Church, saying it legalizes premature suicide and puts terminally ill patients at risk for coerced death, while government opposition is disappointed the governor relied so heavily on his personal experience in his decision.
Doctors in Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana already can prescribe life-ending drugs. At least two dozen states introduced right-to-die legislation this year, though all of those measures have stalled for the time being.