California lawmakers today gave final approval to a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives.
The measure to allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication succeeded on its second attempt after the heavily publicised case of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, the woman with brain cancer who moved to Oregon to legally take her life.
Her relatives tearfully watched the debate from the Senate floor.
Senators approved the bill on a 23-14 vote after an emotional debate on the final day of the legislative session.
"Eliminate the needless pain and the long suffering of those who are dying," urged Senator Lois Wolk, one of the bill's co-authors.
Opponents said the measure could prompt premature suicides.
"I'm not going to push the old or the weak out of this world, and I think that could be the unintended consequence of this legislation," said Senator Ted Gaines.
The revised measure includes requirements that the patient be physically capable of taking the medication themselves, that two doctors approve it, that the patient submit several written requests, and that there be two witnesses.
Doctors in Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana already can prescribe life-ending drugs.