California Assisted Suicide Bill Introduced, Pro-Life Groups Oppose It

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 19, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Assisted Suicide Bill Introduced, Pro-Life Groups Oppose It Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 19, 2005

Sacramento, CA ( — California state legislators officially introduced legislation on Thursday to make California only the second state in the nation to allow assisted suicide. The legislation is expected to receive opposition from doctors groups, disability advocates and pro-life organizations.

After a hearing and discussion of the issue, Assemblywoman Patty Berg and Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, both Democrats, introduced Assembly Bill 654, which is modeled on the Oregon assisted suicide law.

Under the measure, two doctors much agree that the patient has six months or less to live, that the patient is competent to make the decision, and both physicians must submit reports to the state health department.

The patient must make two oral requests to allowed to kill himself and one written one.

The bill is expected to receive strong opposition and California voters previously defeated a ballot initiative in 1992 to legalize assisted suicide and a previous bill failed in 1999.

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.

CMA spokesman Ron Lopp told the Los Angeles Times newspaper that his group has not yet taken a position on the proposed legislation, but said the organization opposes assisted suicide.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger could prove key to 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 first-in-the-nation measure.

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]

Related web sites:
California Pro-Life Council –
Euthanasia.Com –
International Anti-Euthanasia Task Force –