California Lawmakers Discuss Proposal to Legalize Assisted Suicide

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 4, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Lawmakers Discuss Proposal to Legalize Assisted Suicide Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 4, 2005

Sacramento, CA ( — Lawmakers in the California state Assembly want to make the Golden State the second after Oregon to legalize the grisly practice of assisted suicide. Voters previously defeated a ballot initiative in 1992 to legalize assisted suicide and a previous bill failed in 1999.

However, a state Assembly panel heard arguments for and against assisted suicide on Friday. The bill will officially be introduced later this month.

Patty Berg, D-Santa Rosa, and Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, both state representatives, are drafting legislation that would be modeled after the Oregon law.

Oregon resident Steve Mason has cancer and plans to use that state’s law soon to end his life, according to a KCRA-TV report.

"To me, this is about a civil right. This is not about theocracy," Mason said. "It has nothing whatever to do with suicide. Suicide is the needless taking of life. There is nothing needles about an incurable, terminal illness, (where) nothing can help."

The proposed bill will allow those to die in cases where two doctors confirm the patient has only six months to live and is mentally competent. The patient must administer the drugs without assistance.

In addition to pro-life groups, the California Medical Association opposes the measure. The doctors group worries that terminally ill patients will be pressured to end their lives.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger could prove key whether the bill becomes law, since he has not commented on whether he would sign such legislation if it lands on his desk.

Voters in Oregon initially approved its law in 1997 allowing assisted suicide and then voted down an effort to strike the law in 1998. Some 171 people have ended their lives under the law.

In Michigan and Maine, voters overwhelmingly disapproved assisted suicide proposals. Legislation to legalize the practice has failed in Hawaii, Wyoming and Vermont.

In a 1997 case, the Supreme Court ruled that no right to assisted suicide exists, but states could decide whether to allow assisted suicides to take place.

ACTION: Contact Governor Schwarzenegger and urge opposition to assisted suicide. Write him at: State Capitol Bldg., Sacramento, CA 95814, (p) 916-445-284, (f) 916-445-4633, (e) [email protected]

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