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Anti-Assisted Suicide Ballot Effort Dies in Calif.

SACRAMENTO (CN) - Seniors Against Suicide, which is fighting a California law allowing terminally ill patients to obtain lethal drugs, failed to collect enough signatures to qualify its referendum for the ballot.

The coalition said Monday that it collected around 200,000 signatures statewide, well short of the 365,880 signatures it needed to send the referendum to voters in November.

The group filed referendum papers in October, one day after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the contentious bill into law; it had 90 days to collect the required signatures.

In its referendum filing, the group said, "Illness is never a reason for ending a life." On its website the group cites Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: "Embracing assisted suicide is surrendering to the very emotions that we are warned we must be prepared for and must help others cope with."

The bill, The End of Life Option Act, was modeled after Oregon's 1994 Death With Dignity law and received Brown's support despite his Catholic roots.

"I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain," Brown wrote in a passionate signing letter. "I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn't deny that right to others."

Before obtaining the lethal drugs from a doctor, patients must pass several control measures, including two documented prognoses, produce written and oral requests for the drugs at least 15 days apart and take the dose themselves.

Critics of the bill said Democratic lawmakers took advantage of Brown's special session on health care and fast-tracked the legislation. The bill stalled before an Assembly committee vote in July after opposition from several lawmakers representing largely Catholic districts.

The bill received little Republican support despite multiple polls finding nearly 70 percent of Californians support aid-in-dying legislation. The bill takes effect 90 days after the special session on health care is concluded.

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