Hispanic Group Opposes Assisted Suicide, California Bill to Legalize It

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

Hispanic Group Opposes Assisted Suicide, California Bill to Legalize It Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
April 9, 2006

Sacramento, CA (LifeNews.com) — A national Hispanic organization has voted to oppose assisted suicide and a bill in the California legislature that would make the second after Oregon to legalize the practice. An initial hearing on the legislation is planned for next month.

At the request of its California chapter, the entire national board of LULAC voted to oppose the legislation, California Assembly Bill 651.

"The national board was unanimous in its opposition to this assisted suicide proposal," Angel Luevano, state director of California LULAC, said in a statement provided to LifeNews.com.

"Once again, the Latino community doesn’t want assisted suicide," Luevano said. "The disability community does not want assisted suicide. The poor and uninsured do not want assisted suicide."

Luevano said the majority of the LULAC members are Democrat and want their representatives to focus on issues like health care and immigration instead.

Raimundo Rojas, the Hispanic outreach coordinator for the National Right to Life Committee, told LifeNews.com he’s not surprised LULAC would so strongly oppose assisted suicide.

"Latino culture reveres the elderly — a group that would be severely targeted should this bill pass," he said. "LULAC recognizes the sad irony of a doctor purposely killing his or her patient."

California Assemblywoman Patty Berg, a Democrat, is the lead sponsor of the assisted suicide bill. It is based on the Oregon law, which would allow physicians to prescribe lethal narcotics that would kill patients. Two doctors must certify the patient has six months or less left to live.

Berg, a former Planned Parenthood abortion business founder, says the measure is needed because terminally ill people should be allow to kill themselves if they no longer want to live.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold hearings on a measure in May.

Last year a measure to legalize the grisly practice never made it out of committee as some Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the measure.

Even if the state legislature signs off on the assisted suicide bill, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in January he would veto it.

He thinks voters in the state should make the decision, not the state legislature. "I personally think this is a decision probably that should go to the people, like the death penalty and other big issues," the governor said.

"I don’t think 120 legislators and I should make the decision. I think the people should make the decision, and whatever that is, that is what it ought to be," Schwarzeneggar added.

A recent survey of Latinos across California indicates that 64 percent oppose assisted suicide. The Democratic polling firm Fairbanks, Maslin, Maullin & Associates conducted the poll in February.

Rojas said the poll wasn’t surprising and told LifeNews.com, "Most polls also show that, as a group, Latinos do not support assisted suicide."

He indicated Hispanics were strongly opposed to courts allowing Terri Schiavo to become a victim of euthanasia at the hands of her former husband.

LULAC is the largest and oldest Latino civil rights organization in the United States and has more than 700 local and state councils. The group is a coalition partner of Californians Against Assisted Suicide, a group of medical societies, disability groups and pro-life organizations opposed to the bill.

The group worries about a high number of assisted suicides in the nation’s most populated state. Also, the number of California residents above the age of 65 is expected to double in the next 15 years as baby boomers age.

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. 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.

Thirteen years ago, California voters disapproved an assisted suicide ballot proposal. Voters rejected Proposition 161 by a 54% to 46% margin.

Nationally, an August 2005 Pew Research survey found only 44 percent of people "Favor making it legal for doctors to Assist in suicide." A May 2005 Gallup Poll found a close 49-42 percent split in favor of assisted suicide and a November 2004 CBS News survey determined that Americans were split 46-45 percent on the issue.

TAKE ACTION: Contact the California legislature and tell your elected officials you oppose assisted suicide. Go to: https://www.legislature.ca.gov

Related web sites:
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) – https://www.lulac.org
Californians Against Assisted Suicide – https://www.ca-aas.com
California Pro-Life Council – https://www.californiaprolife.org