In a rare personal message, California’s 77-year-old governor provided insight into his deliberations before deciding to sign a bill allowing terminally ill Californians to legally take their own lives, reflecting on religion and self-determination as he weighed an emotionally fraught choice.

Gov. Jerry Brown, a lifelong Catholic and former Jesuit seminarian, said he consulted a Catholic bishop, two of his own doctors and friends “who take varied, contradictory and nuanced positions.”

“In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death,” wrote the Democratic governor, who has been treated for prostate cancer and melanoma. “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.”

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