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'Right-To-Die' Proposal Sparks Tears, Impassioned Testimony at California Capitol


People lined up inside the California Capitol Wednesday to testify during an emotional hearing about the End-of-Life Option Act. As Capital Public Radio's Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone explains, the bill cleared its first committee test.

Terminally-ill Californians would be able to receive prescription medication to hasten their death under the proposal. 

Deborah Ziegler  is Brittany Maynard's mother. Maynard moved to Oregon to obtain a life-ending prescription when she was dying of brain cancer.

Ziegler: "Brittany was visibly relieved when she got the medication. Her face softened. She was comforted in knowing that she had the means to escape her suffering."

But medical providers say aiding death is not their purpose. Disability advocates fear such a law would make death the cheapest option. Dr. Aaron Kheriaty directs medical ethics at UC Irvine's Medical School.

Kheriaty: "The legalization of assisted suicide sends a message that some lives are not worth living. The law is a teacher."

The bill must still pass two more committees in the Senate. 

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