California Holds Hearing Tuesday on Dangerous Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide

State   |   Lori Arnold   |   Aug 31, 2015   |   6:27PM   |   Sacramento, CA

Several of our coalition sources in the Capitol have indicated that ABX2-12, the resurrected Physician Assisted Suicide Bill, will be heard Tuesday afternoon as part of an Extraordinary Session called by Governor Jerry Brown. The bill, dubbed the End of Life Option Act, is expected to be heard in the Public Health and Developmental Services Committee, although it is not listed on the official agenda.

The Public Health and Developmental Services Committee was comprised specifically for the Extraordinary session and replaces the original Assembly Health Committee that thwarted Senate Bill (SB) 128 earlier this summer. Numerous Democrats on that initial committee indicated they would not support the “death with dignity” bill and assured its demise.

Not content with the loss, determined lawmakers made an end run by using a narrow legislative tactic to reintroduce the measure during the special session on healthcare financing.

Governor Brown has indicated his displeasure with the new bill’s introduction, saying the Extraordinary Session is not the proper place or process to try to implement the controversial measure.

While pro-family advocates often have their differences with the governor, in this case we wholeheartedly agree.

Please take a few moments now to contact members of the committee. Those who live in the Sacramento area are also asked to attend the hearing and to wear red. Opponents of the ABX2-12 will meet at noon on the fourth floor of the Capitol.

Key CFA Talking Points:

  • ABX2-15 violates a doctor’s Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm.”
  • ABX2-15 ignores the subjective and unreliable practice of estimating a person’s life expectancy after receiving a terminal diagnosis.
  • ABX2-15 disregards the role of depression that is frequently associated with terminal diagnoses, and only suggests that doctors refer a patient to counseling “if appropriate.”
  • ABX2-15 downplays advances in palliative and hospice care, which can ease a terminal patient’s suffering during the end stages of their disease.
  • ABX2-15 contains no provisions to track or review the total number of assisted-suicide cases, offering instead an annual review of a “sample of certain records.” Statistical reports would only be complied from these sample records. Death certificates would list only the underlying terminal illness, not assisted suicide.
  • ABX2-15 offers no provision for impartial witness who can testify if a patient changes his or her mind after seeking the death prescription.
  • ABX2-15 prohibits the issuance of insurance in relation to a request for assisted suicide, but provides no investigation to be sure the patient is not under financial duress in seeking the early death option.
  • ABX2-15 significantly lowers the standard for imposing liability and professional disciplinary action for doctors who assist a patient with killing him or herself.
  • ABX2-15 provides protections for doctors to opt out of participation; however, as has been seen in other states such protections are often wrested away in subsequent years.
  • ABX2-15 declares it a felony to falsify documents related to assisted suicide requests, but provides no mechanism to ensure their legitimacy before the suicide.

Sample letter

NOTE: Faxing letters is much more effective than telephone calls or emails, which are not always tracked. Contact information for each committee member is listed after the sample letter.

Re: ABX2-15 (oppose)

Dear Assemblymember _______________________

I would like to add my voice to the growing number of medical and disability rights groups who oppose ABX2-15, the proposed law to legalize assisted suicide in California.
As doctors and medical professionals across the country have continued to improve end-of-life care through advances in palliative and hospice care, the potential for mistakes and abuse are too great to accept this measure. ABX2-15 simply carries too many risks.

Opposition to this bill is wide and is not contained to a single political party or ethnic group. Marilyn Golden, a progressive who serves as Senior Policy Analyst of the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund said in an Associated Press article earlier this year that by their nature, assisted-suicide laws inevitably result in people wrongly dying.

“No safeguards have ever been enacted or proposed that can prevent this outcome, which can never be undone,” Golden said.

I agree and so does research conducted in Oregon, Washington, Belgium and the Netherlands, areas that have already implemented such laws.

The safeguards presented in ABX2-15 will not protect vulnerable patients from becoming casualties over the tug-of-war between affordable health care insurance and the escalating costs to provide medical treatments. There is also no true way to protect against undue influence for those who seek to profit from a patients early death. The truly compassionate approach is to provide terminal patients with a variety of viable life-affirming options, including physical, mental and emotional support.

A host of other organizations agree: Californians Against Assisted Suicide, the American Medical Association, American College of Pediatricians, American Geriatrics Society, American Nursing Association, California Family Alliance, California Catholic Conference, California Disability Alliance, Berkeley Commission on Disability, and Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

Additionally, I have grave concerns over the process by which ABX2-15 was introduced. As Governor Jerry Brown has indicated, this Extraordinary Session is not the appropriate place or process to consider this controversial bill. It also thwarts the voice and concerns of key Democrats who expressed an unwillingness to support the bill through the proper channel of the Assembly Health Committee.

Please protect all Californians—and the legislative process—by opposing ABX2-15.

Sincerely,

Public Health and Developmental Services Committee

Chair Rob Bonta (D-Oakland)
Sacarmento Office: (916) 319-2018
Fax (916) 319-2118
District Office (510) 286-1670
[email protected]

Vice Chair Brian Maienschein (R-San Diego)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2077
Fax (916) 319-2177
District Office (858) 675-0077
[email protected]

Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2016
Fax (916) 319-2116
District Office (925) 328-1515
[email protected]

Susan Bonilla (D-Concord)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2014
Fax (916) 319-2114
District Office (925) 521-1511
[email protected]

Nora Campos (D-San Jose)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2027
Fax (916) 319-2127
District Office (408) 277-1220
[email protected]

Eduardo Garcia (D-Indio)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2056
Fax (916) 319-2156
District Office (760) 342-8047
[email protected]

Marc Levine (D-San Rafael)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2010
Fax (916) 319-2110
District Office (415) 479-4920
[email protected]

Chad Mayes (R-Rancho Mirage)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2042
Fax (916) 319-2142
District Office (760) 346-6342
[email protected]

Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2053
Fax (916) 319-2153
District Office (213) 620-4646
[email protected]

Marc Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2040
Fax (916) 319-2140
District Office (909) 466-9096
[email protected]

Mark Stone (D-Santa Cruz)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2029
Fax (916) 319-2129
District Office (831) 425-1503
assemblymember.ston[email protected]

Tony Thurmond (D-Oakland)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2015
Fax (916) 319-2115
District Office (510) 286-1400
[email protected]

Jim Wood (D-Eureka)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2002
Fax (916) 319-2102
District Office (707) 445-7014
[email protected]

LifeNews Note: Lori Arnold writes for the California Family Council.

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