California Group Will Do Assisted Suicide Counseling After Bill Failed

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 26, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Group Will Do Assisted Suicide Counseling After Bill Failed Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 26,

Sacramento, CA ( — After a bill to legalize assisted suicide in California failed again in the state legislature, euthanasia advocates are creating a new assisted suicide counseling service. Their goal is to provide help and information for people who want to commit suicide in a less direct manner that gets around state law.

Rev. John Brooke, a United Church of Christ minister from Cotati is one of the organizers of the new End of Life Consultation Service.

"Volunteers will neither provide nor administer the means for aid in dying," he told the Bay Area News. "Clients will obtain and self-administer these means. We will not break or defy the law."

Brooke said the service will help terminally ill patients and elderly adults find information on end-of-life care and pain treatment.

They will also help patients find a means of killing themselves but not administer the means directly. The new group will also provide people to be with those who decide to take their lives to appear at the time the suicide is committed.

However, Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families, one of the leading coalition groups opposing the assisted suicide bill in the legislature, told the news service the new campaign sounded like California death squads" to him.

He said he would ask authorities to investigate the new counseling service once it begins.

Ned Dolejsi of the California Catholic Conference also criticized the idea.

"It sounds like on the heels of their legislative defeat, they are just redirecting their efforts that began with the Hemlock Society," he said.

Backers of the bill that would have legalized assisted suicide in California fell short in June from having enough votes to advance the measure in the state Assembly. They pulled it from consideration when they realized they did not have enough votes to get it approved by a legislative deadline.

The bill had already received approval from a state Assembly committee but did not have enough votes to make it through the full Assembly.

The measure would allow adults who are diagnosed with less than six months to live to ask a physician for the drugs to kill themselves.

The California legislature has tried repeatedly to approve an assisted suicide bill but it has never made it out of the House in previous attempts.

This is the third year in a row that Assembly members Lloyd Levine and Patty Berg, both Democrats, have introduced the legislation, which is patterned after Oregon’s first-in-the-nation assisted suicide law.

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