SACRAMENTO — Two Democratic lawmakers on Thursday introduced legislation that would make California the second state in the nation to allow doctors to prescribe medication that would enable terminally ill patients to end their own lives.
The bill is modeled after Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, which was twice approved by voters in that state, most recently in 1997. Today, U.S. Supreme Court justices were scheduled to conduct a private conference to discuss whether to review a federal appeals court decision last year that upheld the Oregon law against a challenge from former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Assemblywoman Patty Berg of Eureka and Assemblyman Lloyd Levine of Van Nuys introduced the bill after holding informational hearings over the past two months to gauge public reaction to the idea. Previous bills have never made it through either house of the Legislature, and a statewide ballot initiative in 1992 was rejected by an 8 percentage point margin.
The new bill is modeled directly after the Oregon law and includes restrictions designed to ensure that only mentally sound, terminally ill individuals are able to receive a fatal prescription, which only they could administer.
Opposition to the measure is expected to be strong. [Source]
Well they are certainly covering their bases. ESCR for those at the beginning of life and assisted-suicide (what a contradictory term) for those at the end of life or for those suffering pain.
"We will be pleased to join the coalition to defeat this," said Ned Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference.
He said his organization has already been in conversation with the California Medical Association, hospice and disabled rights groups that have teamed to fight previous proposals to legalize assisted suicide.
Dolejsi said that in addition to the conference’s moral opposition — "life is a gift from God and we cherish that gift" — it is also bad from a public policy perspective because it would inevitably put pressure on poor and uninsured people with terminal illnesses to end their lives rather than burden their families and society with additional medical costs.
"If we’re going to debate anything, let’s talk about issues of substance," Dolejsi said. "There are almost 7 million Californians who have no health insurance. Let’s talk about that moral issue."
Well he was doing well until that last line. If he is referring to government funded healthcare it would do well to remember that historically this has lead to in some cases euthanasia to restrict costs or just plain denial of healthcare for those they deem are not worth it.
Update: Ignatius Insight has an article on Oregon’s assisted suicide law. In this article it reports how HMO’s are promoting this to patients obviously as a method to cut costs. Cold hearted business first HMO’s are bad enough and can you imagine the results by moving the decision making to Washington D.C.?
Proponents in California want to use Oregon’s law as a template and of course they will end up with similar results. For example in the first year all but one person who wanted to kill themselves was actually in physical pain. The rest were all concerned about future problems where they would need other people to help them with basic care. It was lack of mobility and pain in the first couple of years that drove most of these people to request a lethal prescription from their doctor.