California's right to die debate heads to court in San Francisco on Friday, where a number of terminally ill patients and doctors who treat them are expected to sue the state for the right to help patients end their life.
Death With Dignity advocates are looking to change the law in the state legislature. But now a group of patients worried about facing a horrible death are asking the court to protect doctors from criminal prosecution.
Christie White, a two-time cancer survivor, is part of the group of patients and doctors suing California for the right to have a doctor help end their life when the time comes.
White, 54, will be in San Francisco Superior Court on Friday for a hearing on the case, which Attorney General Kamala Harris is defending.
Harris in court documents said Penal Code 401 prohibits assisted suicide, including physician-assisted suicide.
Attorney Kathryn Tucker, however, argues end-of-life care is not suicide.
"The choice of a dying patient for a peaceful death is no suicide," Tucker said. "We are asking the court to recognize that."
Tucker also is asking the court to issue a preliminary injunction protecting California doctors from criminal prosecution.
The lawsuit comes after efforts to pass the Death With Dignity Act in the state legislature stalled. The story of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard moving to Oregon, where a doctor helped her die, highlighted a debate patients like White want settled.
"I don't want to leave California. I live here. I have family here. I have a farm. I have a vision of what I want it to be like when the time comes," Tucker said. "I don't want it to be in some strange place in Oregon I don't know."