California's End of Life Option Act Overturned by Court in May 25 Ruling
The Riverside County Court formally entered its judgment in the Ahn v. Hestrin case and has officially invalidated the California End of Life Option Act (EOLOA). The May 25 ruling was in response to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra's May 21 appeal and the court’s original May 15 decision. Mr. Bacerra's appeal argued that the Special Session in which the Act was passed was dedicated to health care and that aid-in-dying is a health care issue so should passage of the Act was appropriate. He also requested the law be allowed to continue during the appeals process; a three-judge panel rejected that request.
Despite the May 25 dismissal, the court has given EOLOA supporters, and the Attorney General's office, time to make the case as to why the court should allow the law to continue while a final ruling is sought. This action has caused uncertainty among patients seeking life-ending medicines, as well as among physicians who support them. Several experts argue that, despite the appellate court’s decision to allow more evidence to be gathered for an appeal, the original ruling that patients and physicians are prohibited from participating in the law means that it remains illegal to provide EOLOA care as the case proceeds through the courts. Others argue the opposite.
In the absence of legal certainty about the status of EOLOA, CAFP currently is unable to recommend a course of action. As soon as more information is known, we will communicate with members.