Pro-Lifers Urge California Gov. Jerry Brown to Veto Bill Legalizing Assisted Suicide

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 14, 2015   |   3:17PM   |   Sacramento, CA

Leading pro-life groups are urging pro-life people in California to immediately call and email Governor Jerry Brown to urge him to veto a bill the California legislature approved on Friday that would legalize assisted suicide.

The National Right to Life Committee condemned Friday’s 23-14 vote by the California State Senate to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide and called on Gov. Jerry Brown to veto the bill.

“Friday’s vote shows a blatant disregard for the lives of California’s medically vulnerable citizens and sends a message to these citizens that their lives are less worthy to be lived,” said Carol Tobias, National Right to Life president. “The so-called ‘right-to-die’ movement promotes these laws as simply ‘another medical option’ at the end of life, but their real goal is euthanasia on demand for any reason.”

Ironically, the bill was passed during a special session of the California State Legislature, which was originally called to address cost savings for the state’s MediCal program. Indeed, there are many who would see doctor-prescribed suicide as a “cost-savings” measure. Writing about the bill’s passage in The New York Times, Ian Lovett included an observation by Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, director of the medical ethics program at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine:

…[Kheriaty] said that low-income and underinsured patients would inevitably feel pressure to end their own lives in some cases, when the cost of continued treatment would be astronomical compared with the cost of a few lethal pills.

If Governor Brown signs the bill, California would become the fourth state to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide following Oregon, Washington and Vermont. Additionally, the Supreme Court of Montana interpreted its law to make “consent” of the victim a defense in cases of homicide.

The California bill is modeled after Oregon, which, in 1994, became the first state in the nation to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide. Proponents argue that such laws are necessary to provide “compassionate aid in dying for terminally ill patients,” and point to safeguards similar to Oregon, but the rhetoric obfuscates the real truth.

There are no real safeguards. It is a well-established fact that nearly every terminally ill patient who desires death is suffering from treatable depression. In Oregon, fewer than 6% of patients have been referred for psychiatric evaluation before obtaining life-ending drugs. Rather than treat clinically depressed patients, the Oregon system, and the system that would be established by the California bill, indicates that you instead help the patients kill themselves.

“We join with our state affiliate, California Pro-Life Council, in urging Gov. Brown to veto doctor-prescribed suicide in California,” Tobias said. “We urge all Californians concerned about the rights of the medically vulnerable to contact Gov. Brown and tell him to stop doctor-prescribed suicide.”

ACTION: Contact Governor Jerry Brown here to urge him to veto the bill to legalize assisted suicide.

Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition tells that people need to know of the dangers associated with assisted suicide.

“Does legalizing assisted suicide show care and concern to someone who is living with psychological pain? Recently, Dr Will Johnston wrote about a young adult patient who became suicidal after watching a video about Brittany Maynard, the California woman who moved to Oregon to die by assisted suicide<‘ he said. “A primary risk associated with depression is suicidal ideation. The data indicates that legalizing assisted suicide does not reduce suicide, rather it appears to have a suicide contagion effect.”

Other experts on assisted suicide and euthanasia say lawmakers are ignoring problems in other states that have passed it.

“The assemblymembers didn’t focus on the bill’s language,” said Margaret Dore, president of Choice is an Illusion, regarding ABX2-15, which is modeled on similar laws in Oregon and Washington State.  “The bill is sold as giving people choice and control at the end of life. Yet the bill’s language is stacked against the patient and applies to people with years, even decades, to live.”

“The bill applies to people with a ‘terminal disease,’ which is defined as having less than six months to live.  Most people thinks this means ‘dying,’” Dore said.  “However, in Oregon, which uses a nearly-identical definition of terminal disease, an 18-year-old with insulin-dependent diabetes is ‘eligible’ for assisted suicide.  Doctors are often wrong at predicting life expectancy.  Sadly, this bill encourages people with years, even decades, to live to throw away their lives.”

“In my law practice, I started out working in guardianships, wills and probate, and saw abuse of all kinds, especially where there was money involved (where there’s a will, there are heirs),” Dore explained.  “The California bill sets up the perfect crime: your heir can actively participate in signing you up for the lethal dose and once the lethal dose is in the home, there’s no oversight –not even a witness is required. If you resisted or struggled, who would know?”

“The Assembly got caught up in the concept of the bill, when the devil was in the details of the bill text,” Dore said.  “Hopefully, when it goes to the Senate, there will be a closer examination of the text and the raft of problems in the bill. Governor Brown should ready his veto pen for this deceptive legislation.”

The Assembly debate was quite intense. Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown (D-Rialto) told lawmakers about her son, who was near death. Doctors urged her to let him go. Nineteen days later, he came off life support. He survived, and is now a husband and father.

“Doctors don’t know everything,” Brown said.

Assemblywoman Marie Waldron (R-Escondido) during the debate told members that “suicide should not be the first option where hospice and palliative care have not been tried.”