A group of Christian doctors accused California this week of trying to force them to help patients kill themselves under new changes to the state assisted suicide law.
The Washington Times reports Dr. Leslee Cochrane, a California hospice physician, and the Christian Medical & Dental Association filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging new amendments to the state physician-assisted suicide law.
According to their lawsuit, the amendments require all California physicians “to provide patients with information about assisted suicide and to refer patients for assisted suicide against their religious, ethical, and medical objections to doing so, and leaves them open to criminal, civil, administrative, and professional liability if they do not comply.”
Physician-assisted suicide has been legal in California since 2015, but the initial law included conscience protections for pro-life medical workers. Last year, however, state lawmakers amended the law to remove many of these protections, according to the report.
Denise Harle, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the doctors, said her clients believe the medical profession is about caring for every human life, not killing, CBN News reports.
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“Our clients seek to live out their faith in their medical practice, and that includes valuing every human life entrusted to their care. Participating in, or referring a patient for, physician-assisted suicide very clearly would violate their consciences,” said Harle, the director of the ADF Center for Life. “No health care professional should be forced to act against their religious beliefs and medical ethics, and the state of California is wrong to enforce such coercion.”
California, along with being a radically pro-abortion state, also has been expanding killing by assisted suicide in recent years.
First, it legalized physician-assisted suicide in 2015. Then, the state passed a law in 2018 allowing any person to “aid, advise and encourage” a person to commit suicide with the help of a doctor.
The 2021 amendments that are being challenged in the new lawsuit expanded assisted suicide even more. Although they do not force doctors to directly help kill patients in assisted suicides, they do require all doctors, without exception, to provide information about assisted suicide drugs and procedures and to transfer their patients’ medical records to a doctor who will help them commit suicide, should the patient express interest in doing so, according to the Washington Times.
The report continues:
In addition, S.B. 380 shortens the period between the legally required two separate notifications by a patient that they wish to undergo the procedure from 15 days to 48 hours. Documentation of the request — even if made to a physician who has religious or ethical objections to the practice — would constitute one of those required notifications, making the objecting physician effectively a participant in the end-of-life procedure, the lawsuit claims.
Compelling these actions, attorneys representing the Christian Medical and Dental Associations claimed, effectively “mandates that physicians engage in statutorily required steps to advance the patient toward assisted suicide,” according to the suit filed in federal court.
Many pro-life and religious organizations, disability rights advocates and medical groups have warned that legalizing assisted suicide puts vulnerable people at greater risk of coercion, abuse and medical discrimination.
In 2017, a terminally ill California woman named Stephanie Packer, a young mother of four, said her state Medicare plan initially refused to pay for her medical treatment but offered to pay for assisted suicide drugs instead.