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California Debates Assisted Suicide Bill, Conservatives Rush to Block It

A bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide in California has gained traction in the State Assembly in recent weeks, and it will be considered by the Assembly Health Committee on July 7. Conservative and pro-life activists in the state have been working all hours to stop the bill from being passed.


The California Pro-Life Council is urging constituents in that state to contact their representatives and voice their opposition to the bill.

“We need to contact Health Committee and ALL Assembly Members, as parliamentary ‘sleight of hand’ may be used to wrangle around committee obstacles,” the group said. Pro-life people can use the following link to reach members of the panel to voice opposition to the bill.

Six Latino Democrats recently came out against the bill following a strong public statement from the Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez. Archbishop Gomez vehemently opposed the bill, saying:

“The compassion that doctor-assisted suicide offers is hollow. And this legislation has dangerous implications for our state, especially for the poor and vulnerable. . . There is no denying that in California and nationwide we face a public health crisis in the way we treat patients who are terminally ill and at the end of life. But the answer to fear and a broken system is to fix the system and address the fears. It is not to kill the one who is afraid and suffering.

State Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, a Republican, is also urging his colleagues to oppose the bill:

Senate Bill 128 would legalize physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients in California. Supporters call it the Death with Dignity Act.

In reality, however, the bill should be known as the “Aid in Killing” act. We are asking our health care professionals — the people we hire to care for us and cure us — to now prescribe drugs that will cause our death.

Where is the opposition coming from? Hundreds of organizations and citizens are vehemently opposed to physician-assisted suicide. This includes the American Medical Association and the physicians who treat cancer patients: oncologists. These are the doctors that deal with dying more than anybody.

The bill already passed the California Senate on June 4 and is now left to the State Assembly. Proponents of the suicide law had tried to introduce the legislation for years, without success. But that changed in late May, when the California Medical Association (CMA) removed its formal opposition to physician-assisted suicide. The CMA cited changes in public opinion as its basis for adopting a "neutral" position. The CMA's opposition had been a political roadblock for the assisted suicide movement, and its removal of opposition lent the movement new momentum.

If California were to pass the bill, it would become the sixth state in the nation to legalize some form of physician-assisted suicide.

Assisted suicide is currently legal in four countries.

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