Mentally Ill Patients Ordered Hospitalized in California Can Now be Killed in Assisted Suicides


Just one of the reasons Life Legal filed a lawsuit to challenge California’s assisted suicide law.

From Wesley Smith at

“California has promulgated a regulation to assure that the mentally ill who have been ordered hospitalized in California have access to assisted suicide…”

Read the entire article here.

A Disabled Life Is A Life Worth Living


imageAuthor Ben Mattlin has written a profound article on the value of life with a disability, partly in response to the suicide of Jerika Bolen, a 14-year-old Wisconsin girl who ended her life by refusing medical treatment. Mattlin has Spinal Muscular Atrophy–the same disability Bolen had.

“I dare not judge Jerika Bolen. I don’t know the entirety of her situation. But I do wish she had found the will to live. I’m saddened — as were many others with S.M.A, and some disability rights groups — to think others might grow so weary or apprehensive that they follow her example. I hope she received the same level of intervention any other suicidal 14-year-old would. I wish I could have told her about the psychological alchemy that can turn frustration into an internal fuel. If I’d had the chance I would have told her that society needs its disabled people, too.”

Read the full article here.

Photo Source: Facebook



Today is World Suicide Prevention Day


Over 800,000 people commit suicide across the globe each year. The purpose of World Suicide Prevention Day is to connect, communicate, and care in order to help prevent people from taking their own lives.

In California, Life Legal is challenging California’s assisted suicide law, which allows physicians to prescribe life-ending drugs to their patients. Studies have shown that legalizing physician-assisted suicide increases the number of overall suicides. The End of Life Option Act sends the message that some lives are not worth living. Doctors should be encouraged to care for–not abandon–their patients, especially those facing a difficult diagnosis.

Partial Victory in Assisted Suicide Lawsuit


Life Legal attorneys, led by Katie Short, appeared in court this morning to argue for a preliminary injunction that would block implementation of California’s assisted suicide law.

The following issues were ruled on by Judge Daniel A. Ottolia at this morning’s hearing:

“Standing”: VICTORY! The judge held that our plaintiffs, six physicians and a nationwide medical group comprised of thousands of doctors, have “standing” to sue on behalf of their patients. Standing is the capacity of a party to bring a lawsuit. At the heart of standing “is the requirement that plaintiffs have sustained or will sustain direct injury or harm and that this harm is redressable” (Wex Legal Dictionary, Cornell University of Law). Without standing, a lawsuit cannot proceed, so Life Legal overcame a major hurdle today!

“Ripeness”: VICTORY! A claim is not “ripe” if it rests upon hypothetical or future events. Courts must adjudicate actual harms, not abstract ones. The judge held today that the case is ripe, which means he acknowledged that people could actually be harmed under the End of Life Option Act.

Preliminary Injunction: Life Legal sought to have the assisted suicide law “enjoined,” or suspended. Unfortunately, the judge denied our motion. He was unclear as to the substantive reasons behind his decision, but said the state should be able to facilitate the “right” of terminally ill individuals to commit suicide.

Life Legal has obtained a death certificate from one of the first deaths by lethal prescription which shows that that the doctor who prescribed the drugs had only known the patient for three weeks. One of our many concerns about the law is that it will create popup clinics that only exist to help people kill themselves. It seems this is has already happened.

Our next court appearance will be on December 5. Please pray, as the End of Life Option Act is a dangerous law that has already resulted in loss of life.

Our fight against California’s assisted suicide law is just beginning, and it will be expensive. Already Compassion and Choices, the Soros-funded assisted suicide organization that choreographed Brittany Maynard’s very public suicide, has joined forces with the state to defend the law.

You can be part of this history-making and life-saving lawsuit by making a donation to Life Legal today!

Life Legal Fights Legalized Killing


Last week, Life Legal had the opportunity to meet three heroes in the fight against the legalization of assisted suicide: 30-year-old former U.S. Marine JJ Hanson, his wife Kristen Hanson, and Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, a psychiatrist with the University of California at Irvine’s Neuropsychiatric Center.

In 2014, both Brittany Maynard and JJ Hanson were diagnosed with the same form of aggressive brain cancer. Like Maynard, Hanson was told he only had a few months to live.

While Brittany chose to spend her remaining days looking for a doctor who could end her life, JJ sought a doctor willing to provide treatment—and found one. He underwent an extremely risky surgery to remove the tumors. While the procedure itself went well, JJ suffered complication that nearly ended his life. He endured chemotherapy, radiation, and a new experimental therapy.

During those dark days, JJ became clinically depressed and questioned whether he wanted to go on living. He now realizes how vulnerable patients are as they are wrestling with a devastating diagnosis—and how easy it would have been to give up, had “aid-in-dying” drugs been available to him.

Two years later, JJ’s cancer is in remission. JJ and Kristen are now working to oppose assisted suicide laws in New York.

Dr. Aaron Kheriaty is a declarant in Life Legal’s lawsuit against California’s “End of Life Option Act.” He has been an active opponent of assisted suicide laws across the nation. As a psychiatrist, Dr. Kheriaty has researched the links between serious illness, depression, and suicide and found that 80-90% of all suicides are associated with depression or other treatable mental disorders. California’s End of Life Option Act does not require patients to undergo a psychiatric evaluation prior to obtaining a lethal prescription. Dr. Kheriaty believes this lack of evaluation constitutes medical negligence.

“The law is a teacher: Laws shape the ethos of a culture by affecting cultural attitudes toward certain behaviors and influencing moral norms. Laws permitting physician-assisted suicide send a message that, under especially difficult circumstances, some lives are not worth living.” —Dr. Aaron Kheriaty

LAWSUIT UPDATE: State Attorney General Kamala Harris has now intervened and will submit her reply to the lawsuit this week.

Please consider making a donation today to help Life Legal fight California’s assisted suicide law and to send the message that life is worth protecting.

Stephanie’s Journey


“I can’t sit and watch that happen without having something to say about it, I can see solutions. It’s not easy, but life isn’t meant to be easy.”

Stephanie Packer, a 32-year old mother of four, diagnosed in 2012 with a terminal diagnosis, shares her reasons for opposing assisted suicide. Featuring Dr. Aaron Kheriaty.

When Stephanie Packer, a 32-year-old wife and mother of four, was told in 2012 that she had three years to live, the news didn’t sink in right away. It took a month for her to acknowledge that her days were numbered, and during that time many of her friends were unable to deal with the prognosis and deserted her.

Packer said she often feels alone, unwilling to burden her husband and family with her fears. “When you’re sick and dying, everyone around you is going through it, too,” she noted. “It’s a ripple effect that touches everyone around you, but you can’t let it consume you.”

She was diagnosed with scleroderma, a chronic connective tissue disease. Scleroderma affects each person differently; in her case, the disease has caused scar tissue to form in her lungs making it difficult for her to breathe. For the past month, she has taken all nutrients (TPN) through a PICC line because scar tissue from the disease has paralyzed her gastrointestinal tract, prohibiting anything by mouth except tiny sips of water.

Yet far from letting the terminal diagnosis define or defeat her, Packer has found new purpose in leading and participating in support groups for fellow scleroderma patients who are dealing with symptoms and effects of the difficult-to-diagnose disease. A former church youth minister, Packer also is actively working to combat California’s proposed End of Life Option Act, SB 128, introduced to the state legislature on Jan. 21. She speaks on media panels and at ethics conferences and tries to advocate for other dying patients.

Based on Oregon’s successfully enforced assisted-suicide law, the California legislation would permit physician-assisted suicide for terminal patients with 6 months or less to live. “Terminally ill people need to know they’re valuable and worthwhile,” Packer said.

“They think they will add value to their lives by taking their own lives, that ending their lives sooner is more dignified. But if they really value their lives and the lives of the people around them, they could entrust their doctors to care for them properly and treat their pain.”


How One Woman Chose Assisted Suicide…Then Survived

In 1994, Jeannette Hall, a resident of King City, Ore., voted in favor of Ballot Measure 16, which for the first time in the United States, would allow terminally ill patients to end their own lives through physician-assisted suicide.

“I thought, hey, I wouldn’t want anyone to suffer,” Hall told The Daily Signal. “So I checked it. Then it became legal.”

That day at the ballot box, Hall never could have predicted that six years later, she would be diagnosed with inoperable colon cancer.

“She was terminal because she was refusing treatment,” Dr. Kenneth Stevens, one of Hall’s two cancer doctors, told The Daily Signal. “It’s like a person could be considered terminal if they’re not taking [their] insulin or [other] medications.”

Read Jeannette’s story here.

(Video: The Daily Signal and Patchbay Media)



Life Legal Files Lawsuit to Stop Assisted Suicide Law


The Life Legal Defense Foundation filed a lawsuit today challenging California’s physician-assisted suicide law, the “End of Life Option Act.” The lawsuit was filed in the California Superior Court in Riverside County.

The civil rights lawsuit alleges Equal Protection violations of individuals labeled terminally ill and was filed by five physicians in southern California and by the American Academy of Medical Ethics (AAME), which represents more than 600 California doctors and over 2 million patients. AAME has 15,000 physician members nationwide. The individual physicians include two oncologists, a neurologist, as well as palliative care and hospice physicians, all seeking to protect the rights of their patients.

The Act decriminalizes physician-assisted suicide and instantly removes criminal law, elder abuse, and mental-health legal protections from any individual deemed terminally ill, despite the inherent uncertainty and frequently inaccurate nature of such a prognosis.  In contrast, all non-terminally ill Californians enjoy Penal Code § 401 protection, which makes it a felony to aid, advise, or encourage another to commit suicide. They also enjoy other legal protections against suicide, including being placed on 72-hour (to 30-day) mental-health holds to protect them from self harm.

California’s assisted suicide law does not require labeled individuals seeking a lethal prescription to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, so patients with untreated depression and suicidal ideation can be prescribed lethal drugs. A large body of psychiatric research has demonstrated that 80-90% of all suicides are associated with depression or other treatable mental disorders. The California Department of Public Health Care Services assumes that only two percent of Medi-Cal patients likely to request the lethal drugs will be referred for psychiatric counseling and set the state budget accordingly.

“We are asking the court to uphold civil and criminal laws that should apply equally to all Californians, including laws that protect people from self-harm and elder abuse laws. The End of Life Option Act is irreparably flawed as it removes crucial protections from individuals who are most susceptible to depression, abuse, and coercion,” said Alexandra Snyder, Executive Director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation. “The Act provides virtually no safeguards for labeled individuals who may suffer from untreated mental illness or mood disorders and grants full immunity for doctors to participate in the killing of their most vulnerable patients.”

The End of Life Option Act also incentivizes the creation of Kevorkian-like suicide pipelines. Doctors who prescribe the drugs do not have to have a prior relationship with patients and are thus free to prey on vulnerable patients—including those who are mentally ill—as they would be immune from nearly all civil and criminal liability under the Act.

Under the Act, “terminal illness” includes any condition that, if left untreated, would cause death within six months. This encompasses many types of illnesses—even those that can be successfully treated—if the patient decides to forego treatment. Moreover, predicting life expectancy is crude and fraught with subjective judgment.  Physicians’ predictions for life-expectancy are frequently wrong.

To read the complaint, click here: End of Life Option Act Conformed Complaint