Brittany Maynard garnered national attention when she and her husband packed their belongings into a U-Haul and drove 600 miles north from California to Oregon so she could take advantage of the state’s right-to-die law and die peacefully.
Since Maynard’s death on Nov. 1, 2014 at age 29, her husband Dan Diaz has helped push for the passage of a right-to-die law in their home state of California – as well as similar legislation in Hawaii, Colorado and Washington, D.C.
But, on Tuesday, Diaz was drawn back into a the fight he thought he already won. A Riverside County judge overturned California’s right-to-die law because of a legislative technicality. The California Attorney General has vowed to appeal the ruling.
“They’re trying to take away the option of a terminally ill person, like my wife was, to have a peaceful dying process instead of what, in her case, was a brain tumor that would have tortured her to death,” Diaz told TIME on Wednesday.
Signed into law in 2015, California’s End of Life Option Act went into effect in June 2016. Within six months, 191 terminally ill people requested medication to end their lives, according to state data; 111 died as a result of the prescribed drugs.
Before her death, Maynard made a video in which she advocated for legislation like California’s End of Life Option Act. And her husband, Diaz, has pushed for the cause in states around the country ever since.
“The hope is that you don’t need to utilize the medication,” Diaz said.
“But there are certain cases,” he added, “where these terminally ill individuals are facing a brutal dying process. Just having that option has a lot of relief.”
Opponents of the law filed a lawsuit claiming it was unconstitutional. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia overturned the law on procedural grounds in a ruling Tuesday, taking issue with how the state passed the legislation during a special session focused on healthcare issues. Life Legal Defense Foundation and the American Academy of Medical Ethics – both of which have affiliations with religious groups – led the way in challenging the law.
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