On Monday, California became the fifth state to legalize assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, bringing an end to decades of moral and legislative debate.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed the hotly contested bill into law Monday afternoon, clearing the way for physicians to prescribe lethal doses of medication to mentally competent adults expected to die within six months, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death,” Brown reportedly wrote in a signing statement accompanying the bill. “I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill.

Still, it may take some time: the “Right to Die” law won’t take effect until 90 days after the state legislature adjourns, which the Times reports could take as long as three months.

Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont have all passed similar provisions.

Image via AP. Contact the author at gabrielle@gawker.com.