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Lack of Support Stymies Assisted-Suicide Bill in California

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July 8, 2015

Lack of Support Stymies Assisted-Suicide Bill in California

With minimal support and scant votes, SB 128 (Wolk, D-Davis) was pulled for a second time in two weeks from the Assembly Health Committee and is most likely finished for the year. 

The bill would have allowed terminally ill patients to request lethal drugs to end their life.  Resistance to SB 128 increased after passage in the Senate.  Opponents continued to focus on the effects this legislation would have on the vulnerable and those on subsidized health care. 

The Assembly Health Committee is comprised of 19 members, all very diverse, and it was this group of legislators that began to question the flaws and realize the consequences of such legislation.

Thank you to the thousands of you that wrote letters and sent emails to legislators and participated in rallies here at the Capitol. Your voice was definitely heard.   

The California Catholic Conference belongs to a coalition of oncologists, disability-rights groups, low income advocates and health care workers that continue to work tirelessly informing legislators about the consequences of physician-assisted suicide legislation. The ramifications on the poor and disabled were often overlooked and this coalition will continue to advocate that better health care is needed, not cheap and easily accessible drugs to end a life.

 “We are very pleased at the outcome and grateful for the hard work done by the assembled coalition at Californians Against Assisted Suicide,” said California Catholic Conference Executive Director Ned Dolejsi.  “The groups who came together to oppose the bill were key to the success of the campaign and we are proud to have played a role in this long-standing coalition.”

 (Read the statement from California Against Assisted Suicide on the withdrawal of SB 128.)

Although some may be breathing a sigh of relief that SB 128 has failed, proponents can pursue other options to make this law. One tactic is called “gut and amend.” This is done during the final days of the legislative session where the contents of a bill are stripped and replaced with something new.  Members are often voting on hundreds of bills in the final hours of the session and unbeknownst to them could let these gutted bills pass through.

Another possibility could be an initiative on the November 2016 ballot that would leave this up to the voters in California.

For now, this controversial issue is far from being over in this state.  While the trend has shown general support for this type of law, it has failed in 13 states this year. The CCC and others will continue to shed light on the implications of this law and work towards better health care for all Californians.

Statement from Archbishop Gomez

http://www.angelusnews.com/voices/archbishop-gomez/statement-on-the-california-assembly-health-committees-decision-not-to-consider-8362/#

Statement from Bishop Soto

http://scd.org/

Statement from Californians Against Assisted Suicide

http://www.cacatholic.org/policies-issues/reverence-life/end-life/sb-128-ca-assisted-suicide-authors-will-not-pursue-bill