FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --The law allows some terminally ill patients to have a doctor assist them in taking their own lives. Even though it was approved by the legislature the law remains controversial
California's Right to Die law allows a terminally ill patient, with less than six months to live who is mentally competent, to ask a physician for a prescription drug that can end life. The doctor does not administer it, the patient must be mentally competent and physically able to take it themselves. The Catholic Church doesn't like it.
"A bill such as this, a law, is not necessarily correct by our standards because it is not giving those at this very delicate point in time, the protection they need as they are on their final journey," said Jim Grant, Diocese of Fresno.
Grant is the director of the Social Justice Ministry with the Diocese of Fresno. He said the church is advocating support and palliative care to ease pain and suffering as a better alternative than allowing a patient to take their own life.
"We are looking at educating the public, beginning with the Catholic public, about the dignity of the human person, so that this law, is not something we sign off on."
At the Hinds Hospice, where the dying receives care and support, the law is being accepted. Lauren Nickerson, the Manager of Communications and Marketing said the Hospice will respect the law, and patients individual wishes.
"It's a non-judgmental approach that we are taking. We are not going to try and talk anybody into or out of it, we will continue to provide standard hospice care."
She emphasizes the hospice will not assist in the procedure, but will respect the wishes of the patient and their doctor.
"Our response will probably be, tell me why you feel that way, and our response will be okay, we will continue to support you, this is a conversation you must have with your attending physician," said Nickerson.
It's not clear how many physicians will be willing to issue prescriptions to dying patients.
Under the law patients who use the law to take their own life will not be labeled a victim of suicide.