Speed Reads

legal matters

Judge overturns California's physician-assisted suicide law

A judge in California on Tuesday overturned a 2016 state law that lets terminally ill adults obtain prescriptions for life-ending drugs if a doctor says they have only six months or so to live.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia said the law had been passed illegally, because lawmakers worked on it during a special legislative session called for other issues. He gave the state attorney general, Xavier Becerra, five days to appeal. In court papers, Becerra's office noted that under the law, doctors can refuse to prescribe or dispense the drugs, and terminally ill people have to be able to administer the drugs on their own.

Plaintiffs like the American Academy of Medical Ethics and the Life Legal Defense Foundation say the law does not have any safeguards against abuse, but Democratic state Sen. Bill Monning told The Associated Press that so far, there has been "not a single report of malfeasance or problems." The most recent statistics released by state health officials show that in the first six months after the law went into effect on June 9, 2016, 111 terminally ill people took the life-ending drugs.