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Death with Dignity campaign revives itself in California




Hospice volunteers caress the hands of terminally ill patient Annabelle Martin, 95, as her health quickly declined at the Hospice of Saint John on September 1, 2009 in Lakewood, Colorado.
Hospice volunteers caress the hands of terminally ill patient Annabelle Martin, 95, as her health quickly declined at the Hospice of Saint John on September 1, 2009 in Lakewood, Colorado.
John Moore/Getty Images

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California has often been the first state in the nation to take on controversial issues, but one area where it's lagged behind is death with dignity.

Seventeen years ago, Oregon became the first state to allow legal options for physician-assisted dying. Since then four other states have followed suit. 

Past attempts in California have failed, but activists are now launching new efforts once again.

"California likely voters are telling us that this is an issue important to them," says Reverend Ignacio Castuera, a United Methodist minister in Pomona, who's working with the group Compassion and Choices on this campaign.

"Just the knowledge that you have the wherewithal to not undergo the major suffering will relax people and give them a better quality of life," he says.