California Assisted Suicide Advocates Re-Launch Legislative Efforts

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 24, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 24, 2006

Sacramento, CA ( — Assisted suicide advocates in California launched re-launched their efforts today to legalize the grisly practice there. They cited a Supreme Court decision saying the federal government can’t prohibit the use of federally controlled drugs in assisted suicides as bolstering their case.

Terminally ill patients who back the legislation kicked off their efforts with a rally at the state Capitol on Tuesday.

But they face an uphill battle as the measure failed to make it out of committee last year as some Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the bill.

Meanwhile, doctors say that palliative care — a system of treating physical and psychological symptoms — is the best method of helping terminally ill patients instead of assisted suicide.

Dr. Elizabeth Menk, medical director of the Coda Alliance, a coalition dedicated to improving end of life care, told the San Jose Mercury News that, "Palliative care doesn’t just mean treating someone’s pain, nausea or shortness of breath."

"It also means dealing with a patient’s fears and loss of a sense of belonging. Good palliative care addresses all these symptoms," she said.

Dr. Steven Pantilat, director of the palliative care service at UC-San Francisco Medical Center, told the News that a patient who asks about assisted suicide is someone who needs better treatment, not help killing himself.

"If you treat someone’s pain and depression, the requests for physician-assisted suicide go way down,” he said. "That’s what the research shows.”

He said the percentage of patients who are concerned about how and when they die is very small compared with the percentage of patients who want to be spared extreme physical pain.

TAKE ACTION: Contact the California legislature and tell your elected officials you oppose assisted suicide. Go to: