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Insights: Assisted-Suicide Expansion, Pope’s Response to Family Synod

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April 1, 2016

Taxpayers Asked to Pay for Assisted-Suicide Drugs

Without fanfare or announcement, Governor Brown’s proposed 2016 Budget recommends $2.3 million dollars for the purchase of lethal drugs for Medi-Cal patients as a covered benefit for those who want their physician to help them commit suicide.

California would pay an estimated $5,400 per patient just for the drugs yet Medi-Cal patients still have no access to palliative care (designed to improve the quality of life for patients and their family facing serious illnesses.)  Even more incredibly, a recent study has shown that Medi-Cal recipients have only a one in three chance of even getting cancer treatments under the system and often cannot obtain second opinions.

Proponents of the assisted-suicide law insisted during last year’s debate that the lethal dose of drugs was not intended to save Medi-Cal costs yet lawmakers passed the legislation in a special session called specifically to address a Medi-Cal deficit.

The California Department of Health Care Services (DCHS) proposes spending $2.3 million to help an estimated 443 Medi-Cal patients end their own life with the cooperation of a doctor.  That’s compared to only $4.6 million spent by the State for 10 suicide-prevention hotlines in California.

Analysts arrived at the projected number of Medi-Cal lethal drug prescriptions by using the assisted suicide rate in Oregon as a basis.  The validity of the comparison is somewhat questionable.  For instance, our northern neighbor has a far less diversified population and the number of Medi-Cal recipients in California is three times larger than the entire population of Oregon.


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Stay tuned for updates on this bill.  As soon as it is heard in a committee, we will issue an action alert so you can voice your opposition to any expansion of this horrible law.

Addressing the Golden State’s Teaching Shortage

Ensuring well-prepared and exceptionally qualified educators is the single most crucial strategy for providing students with an excellent education. Yet, learning in California’s classrooms is imperiled by a widening shortage of professionally prepared teachers.

California’s growing demand for more school teachers is outpacing the supply of fully prepared educators.  Schools are being forced to hire teachers with temporary permits or rely on short-term substitutes.

Over a dozen legislative measures are aimed at attracting diverse, talented individuals who dedicate themselves to teaching and at creating innovative pipelines into the profession. Equally imperative is the need to invest resources to retain and develop those newly prepared teachers with preliminary credentials to remain and advance in their chosen profession. 

The California Catholic Conference is strongly supporting these efforts. One particular measure endorsed by the California Legislative Black Caucus would provide meaningful tax relief to support and encourage more professional trained, credentialed educators.  

One deterrent for new teachers is the cost of a professional development program to clear their credential.  These programs can run up to $5,000 and are completed during the first two years of a new teacher’s career.  On top of student loan debt and earning at the low-end of the salary scales, this added expense is daunting to many just starting out in the field.  This budget request would allow a $500 credit or a $2,500 deduction on their state income taxes.

Such a vital tax measure will greatly help address California’s teacher shortage by improving and retaining beginning teachers throughout the state.

Physician-Assisted Suicide Hotline

On Wednesday, the Senate Health Committee passed SB 1002 (Monning, D-Carmel) – End of Life Option Act: telephone number. This bill would provide a toll-free telephone number that Californians can call in order to receive information on physician-assisted suicide.  It will now move to the Appropriations Committee.

The main proponent of this bill, Compassion and Choices, voiced their concerns over being the only group available to answer questions about the assisted-suicide law that will take effect on June 9.  Not wanting to be liable for disseminating information regarding the law, they prefer have the state take on this responsibility and expense acting as a “neutral” party offering clarifications.

Our opposition questioned the need for another state expense when the authors of the original bill (AB 2x 15 Eggman, D-Stockton) claimed this was a personal matter between a physician and their patient and the state would not interfere. We would rather see funding secured for better palliative and hospice care.  

Thank you for all your emails to the members of this committee so far. The alert will remain active and we encourage your continued advocacy against this unnecessary bill.

Please ask your Senator to vote “NO” on SB 1002.

New Apostolic Exhortation Slated for April 8

Pope Francis’s highly-anticipated Apostolic Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love) on love in the family will be released next Friday. The Apostolic Exhortation is the conclusion of a two-year synod process discussing both the beauty and challenges of family life today.

In 2014 the Vatican hosted an Extraordinary Synod which was in preparation for the October 2015 Ordinary Synod.  An estimated 190 bishops from around the world participated in each gathering.  The 2015 Synod’s theme was “the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the modern world.”

Follow developments at the official Vatican news site –                               

Solidarity - What Does It Mean?

We are our brothers and sisters keepers, whether they are next door or around the world. In today’s world of instantaneous communication, 24-hour news cycles and world economic dependency, this simple axiom is truer than ever.

Solidarity is often defined as “friendship” or “social charity.”  It is the notion that we must help each other, both in the material sense and in the spiritual sense.  It is not just feeling sympathy for the poor in our communities or the world explained Pope John Paul II in his encyclical On Social Concern (Sollicitudo rei socialis), “it is the firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good.”

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April 1, 2016     
Vol. 9, No. 10

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