Law Report - California: Euthanasia image

October 27, 2015
Damien Carrick, interviewing I. Glenn Cohen (Faculty Director)


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Excerpt from Transcript:

[...] Well, it's quite likely that California has again irreversibly tipped the national balance on another contentious political issue, this time euthanasia. On 6 October, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill legalising physician assisted suicide from 2016. Health law expert Professor Glenn Cohen who is based at Harvard Law School says we will probably look back on this signing as the day that changed the euthanasia debate forever.

Glenn Cohen: This is extremely significant. California is roughly 12% of the US population, so now more than one in 10 Americans has access to assisted suicide. And California is a mainstream state in a way many of the other states that have legalised the practice tend to be a little bit more, shall we say, fringe, a little more experimental. And so the fact that a mainstream state has done this is huge. I think it will pave the way for more action in places like Massachusetts, New York and the like.

Damien Carrick: How will this Californian scheme work?

Glenn Cohen: So there's a lot in the Bill itself, but essentially it authorises an adult who meets certain qualifications and who has been determined by his or her attending physician to have a terminal disease, which is defined by the statutes as roughly 6 months to live, to make a request for a drug prescribed pursuant to those statutory terms, and essentially it has requirements of assessing competence, multiple physicians, waiting periods, a series of protections in place. And we talk about other kinds of protections in the Bill. But I think what's important to understand is essentially it enables you to get a prescription that can help you to end your life, it's that kind of assisted suicide. [...]

bioethics health law policy i. glenn cohen