Yesterday afternoon, the California Senate passed SB 282 which legalizes aiding, advising, or encouraging assisted suicide. The bill was rushed through on the first day the legislature returned from its summer recess, giving no opportunity for debate or even opposing remarks.
The bill was introduced in the wake of Life Legal’s challenge to California’s assisted suicide law.
We registered our opposition to the bill early on, as it grants complete legal immunity to anyone who wants to facilitate the death of someone who is defined as “terminally ill” under California’s assisted suicide law. The law defines “terminal” as a condition expected to lead to death within six months if left untreated.
This means diabetes, high blood pressure, treatable conditions—even an infection—could be considered “terminal.”
Medical studies show that the vast majority of people—up to 77%—diagnosed with a terminal illness suffer from major depression. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found a “statistically significant association between clinical depression and the desire for hastened death.” In other words, people who are depressed often have suicidal thoughts.
Now the law in California says that it is okay to aid, advise, or encourage people with suicidal thoughts to actually go through with killing themselves.
California’s assisted suicide law allows “interested” witnesses, which include beneficiaries, to sign a person’s request for assisted suicide drugs. The new law—assisted suicide on steroids—allows an individual to aid, advise, and encourage a person to commit suicide—AND sign off on the method of suicide—while financially benefitting from the person’s death. And it’s all legal now.
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Under existing law, “Any person who deliberately aids, advises, or encourages another to commit suicide is guilty of a felony.” Yesterday, the California legislature carved out an exception to this long-standing law that will give unscrupulous family members and others unqualified immunity to actively participate in the killing of another human being.
We believe this is a radical—and dangerous—policy shift that devalues human life.
Please join with Life Legal as we
LifeNews Note: Alexandra Snyder is the executive director of Life Legal Defense Foundation.