Taiwan's Death Penalty

A controversial law is now active in California, and it's been dubbed by many the "Right to Die" law. Under it, people who are terminally ill are legally allowed to choose to end their lives if they want to. They can do it in a controlled fashion, with medicine, in a hospital.

Not the First

This act, known as the "End of Life Option Act," has gotten a lot of press, but California is actually not the first state to put something like this into effect. Four other states had already created laws that made it possible for medical workers to aid people in ending their lives through a specific process. However, experts have noted that California is both larger and more diverse than most states in the union, so the way that this plays out could pave the way for similar laws all over the country. Clearly, this is a movement that has been gaining traction.


On one hand, advocates say this shouldn't be controversial in the first place. Patients are simply making decisions about themselves, based on what they want. However, opponents who feel that life is valuable no matter what caution that those who are ill could feel extra pressure to go through with this, ending their own lives, even if that's not 100 percent what they want. For example, if a terminal patient knows he or she is accumulating insurmountable medical debt for the family, would that patient then make a financial decision that went against what was actually desired?

Of course, proponents counter that decisions based on family members are still valid. Some have said they want to use the law simply so family members don't have the burden of caring for them, for instance.

Individual Rights

Though California is not the first, this is still a landmark move for individual rights. Many remember the saga with Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who helped patients end their lives even when it was illegal and wound up behind bars. This law not only changes individual rights, but it also changes rights for medical professionals. This could impact criminal law, clearly, but also plays into medical malpractice, estate planning, and many other areas.