May 15 (UPI) -- A California judge on Tuesday overturned the state's assisted suicide law on grounds that the state Legislature illegally passed the measure two years ago.
California's End of Life Option Act allows terminally ill patients with six months or less to live to obtain medication that will kill them. But groups that oppose euthanasia sued the state over the law, arguing that its passage was unconstitutional because it was done during a special session back in 2015 that was supposed to be dedicated to health care funding.
The bill was placed in that special session after a state House committee pulled it from getting an open vote due to pressure from various religious, medical and disability rights groups.
Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia agreed with the plaintiffs that the bill should not have been voted on in a special session and overturned the law. His opinion did not address the law itself.
"We're very satisfied with the court's decision today," Stephen G. Larson, the lead counsel for a group of doctors who filed a lawsuit against the law in 2016, the Sacramento Bee reported. "The act itself was rushed through the special session of the Legislature and it does not have any of the safeguards one would expect to see in a law like this."
Compassion & Choices, a group that helped lead the effort to get the bill passed in California, disagreed with Ottolia's ruling.
"We strongly believe that this law is valid and the appeals court will agree that the Legislature passed the law appropriately," the organization said in a statement. "The vast majority of Californians support this law, and terminally ill Californians and their families deserve better than to have this option ripped away from them."
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has five days to appeal the ruling.
"We strongly disagree with this ruling and the state is seeking expedited review in the Court of Appeal," Becerra said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.
Since California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the End of Life Option Act into law in 2015, hundreds of terminally ill Californians have chosen to end their life, including 111 people during the first few months of passage, according to the Sacramento Bee.