Editor's Note: A previous headline for this article suggested that SB 128 has passed the California Senate. It has not yet passed. Our apologies for the error.
California is one step closer to becoming the sixth state to pass the controversial Death with Dignity bill. The legislation, condemned by many pro-life advocates, allows terminally ill patients to end their lives with a doctor’s prescription.
The California Medical Association, which initially opposed the bill, removed its opposition last week. Soon after, the state Senate appropriations committee approved it.
Similar legislation was just defeated in Scotland.
The debate over assisted suicide reached a climax last year when 29-year-old Brittany Maynard chose to end her life after receiving a fatal diagnosis. She was one of 750 people in Oregon to do so since the state passed the aid in dying law in 1997. The four other states which allow patients to take deadly medication are New Mexico, Montana, Washington, and Vermont.
TIME magazine has a list of factors that explain the divide on the right-to-die issue. On the advocate side are reasons such as retaining one’s autonomy and establishing clear guidelines: “The laws give patients the choice to use aid in dying if their suffering becomes unbearable” and “States that don’t authorize aid in dying have unclear and unenforceable laws.”
Opponents, on the other hand, argue the following: “Once the pills are available, anyone can administer them – particularly if that patient has lost mental and physical faculties – even if that patient has decided against taking the pills” and “It’s often difficult to predict which sick patient is going to die imminently, as opposed to getting better with intensive care.”
No one wants to see a loved one suffer. But, is there not something just inhumane about giving a patient the tools to end their lives? Don't doctors spend years studying medicine and conducting research in order to save lives?
I hope these California lawmakers reconsider and follow Scotland’s lead.