Schwarzenegger Signs Bill That Will Cause Deaths of Patients Via Dehydration

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 1, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Schwarzenegger Signs Bill That Will Cause Deaths of Patients Via Dehydration

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 1
, 2008

Sacramento, CA ( — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is drawing condemnation from pro-life advocates who say he was wrong to sign a bill that puts vulnerable patients at risks and has physicians promoting suicide. The measure didn’t legalize assisted suicide but contained suicide-promoting provisions pro-life groups opposed.

AB 2747 originally had the purpose of legalizing assisted suicide but was amended in committee to urge doctors to inform patients how they can legally end their lives.

Brian Johnston, the head of the California Pro-Life Council and someone who has served on panels helping the elderly, condemned the governor.

He tells the measure Schwarzenegger signed will result in the deaths of thousands of patients.

"I’ve been in countless California nursing homes as both a California Commissioner on Aging and on the State’s Board of Examiners of Nursing Homes," he said. "This bill will encourage tens of thousands of unheralded, quiet deaths by dehydration."

AB 2747 pretends to offer comfort and clarity for the vulnerable, but it does exactly the opposite, Johnston, who has written a highly-regarded book on assisted suicide, tells

"By requiring the ‘legal options’ be read to vulnerable patients it will encourage both these patients and those who should otherwise be advocates for their lives, to instead use dehydration to end their lives," he says.

This happens because the bill requires physicians to present the legal option of self-dehydration, even if such counsel is against the best judgment of the physician.

He said it “mandates that caregivers instruct these medically dependent individuals that they can choose to deny themselves food and water, that the physician must abet this, and keep them sedated as they die.”

Not only does the bill promote suicide, it forces physicians who don’t want to be involved in the grisly practice to refer cases to doctors who don’t mind pushing death on their patients.

"If the attending physician does not believe it is in the best interest of the patient to be guided into this ‘knowledge,’ they are required to excuse themselves and turn the patient over to a physician who does agree that this is something a patient with a terminal diagnosis be told," Johnston added.

Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families, also strongly opposed AB 2747 and told that it is “highly-controversial” legislation that would promote suicide to patients who have been diagnosed as supposedly terminally ill.
"AB 2747 pushes suicide through the back door at the hands of non-physicians taking advantage of depressed patients," Thomasson said. “It cheapens the value of human life by endorsing suicide as an option.”

“The measure allows a physician assistant or a nurse to opine that a patient is ‘terminal,’ and then push for unnatural death by ‘palliative sedation,’” he explained. "Depressed patients who succumb to this pressure will be drugged unconscious and die from dehydration, usually within five to 10 days. Nothing in the bill prohibits this horror."

In his comments on the signing of the bill, Johnston concluded: "Americans have not learned the lessons of the Netherlands, where dehydration of the non-terminal in the 1970s opened the door to ‘quicker’ and ‘more humane’ methods of today."

ACTION: Contact Governor Schwarzenegger and express your opposition to him signing this bill. You can reach him at Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA 95814, or calling 916-445-2841, or faxing 916-558-3160.

Related web sites:
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger –
California Pro-Life Council –

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