California Advocates Fight for Right to Administer Life-Saving Seizure Medication
May 24, 2011
The Sacramento Bee newpaper published an editorial yesterday urging passage of California Senate Bill 161 (S.B. 161), which would allow non-licensed school personnel in California to administer the life-saving medication Diastat (diazepam rectal gel). The editorial emphasized that the bill would help save young lives.
During this and last year’s legislative session, the California affiliates of the Epilepsy Foundation have worked tirelessly to support passage of this bill. Epilepsy California, comprised of the three California Epilepsy Foundation affiliates, has worked extensively with the bill’s sponsor, Senator Bob Huff, and other legislators to gain growing support for the bill. They continue to mobilize their grassroots advocates, other California advocacy groups and the National Office to support S.B. 161 to dispel the many misconceptions about administering Diastat and raise awareness statewide about epilepsy.
This issue is not singular to California. The Epilepsy Foundation is aware of multiple situations nationwide where people with epilepsy who are prescribed Diastat have been denied access to school daycare, or school-related activities. In some cases, children have incurred unnecessary medical risks because educators and child care service providers refuse to make the medications readily available onsite. Federal and state laws guarantee every child--including children with chronic health conditions like epilepsy--the right to participate in free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.
In addition to Epilepsy California’s comprehensive efforts to move this bill forward, the Epilepsy Foundation National Office has provided support, technical assistance and proactive alerts urging our advocacy network to contact their legislators. However, our affiliates’ efforts exemplify the adage that “all politics is local” because they have truly led the charge on this issue at the local level.
Facing mounting opposition from powerful groups such as unions representing public school teachers, nurses and others, Epilepsy California has been a strong and reliable negotiator, responding to the demands of these groups yet maintaining the strength and integrity of the bill. Along with leading medical experts and families impacted by this issue, the leadership of Epilepsy California has traveled to Sacramento on many occasions to testify at public hearings, share real life stories and provide accurate information. They are also always willing to meet with people who oppose the bill to explain its importance.
To date, the bill has passed both the California Senate Health and Senate Education Committees. While we don’t yet know the final outcome, yesterday’s editorial urges California Senate leaders to allow the bill to move forward by holding a full vote on the Senate floor. California advocates continue to ask for the same.