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Insights: Assisted Suicide Bill Stalls, Supreme Court Rulings

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June 26, 2015

Assisted-Suicide Bill Hits Roadblocks in CA Assembly

Authors of a bill aimed at legalizing physician-assisted suicide in California were forced to pull their bill from a scheduled hearing at the last minute because they did not have enough votes for passage.

The Assembly Health Committee was expected to hold a hearing on SB 128 End-of-Life Options Act on Tuesday but it was called off late Monday night. Although this bill passed in the Senate, the primary author, Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), delayed the bill so she and other proponents would have more time to find votes for the controversial legislation.  

It may be rescheduled for a hearing in Assembly Health on July 7, yet the committee has not confirmed this date.

The Assembly Health Committee has 19 members and several members of both parties have publically expressed serious concerns with the bill.  Proponents had tried to create an air of inevitability after passage in the Senate but that ploy has fallen flat in the Assembly.

Just as word was getting out about this cancellation, hundreds of Catholics from the Dioceses of Orange and Fresno, were en route to the Capitol to express their opposition to SB 128. Thankfully, their trip was not in vain as they were able to have impromptu visits with their Senator or Assembly Member. The rally was an overall success as a deluge of people wearing “NO on Assisted Suicide” stickers walked the halls of the Capitol.  Their presence was palpable. 

There is still time – and still a great need – for you to voice your opposition to this bill by clicking here and sending a letter to your Assembly Member to urge them to vote NO on SB 128. This issue is far from being settled and we must keep advocating for a “NO” vote on this bill.


 Legislation Moving as Recess Nears; State Budget Signed

AB 775 (Chiu, D-San Francisco) – Reproductive FACT Act passed out of Senate Health Committee this week with Sen. Jim Nielson (R-Gerber) and Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) voting “No”.  It will most likely go to the Judiciary Committee sometime before July 17. This bill would enact the Reproductive FACT (Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency) Act, which would require life-centered pregnancy centers to advertise the availability of abortion in California.  The Conference is opposed and you can send an email voicing your opposition here.

SB 277 (Pan, D-Sacramento) - Vaccination passed off the Assembly Floor with a vote of 46 to 30 after a lengthy two-hour debate. It was not a straight party line vote and will now go back to the Senate since additional amendments were added in the Assembly. If the Senate concurs with the amendments then it will be sent to the Governor who has 12 days to act on it.   Read about Catholic teaching on the subject in The Question of Parental Rights and Mandated Vaccinations.

Governor Brown signed the California State Budget Wednesday, blue-pencilling a record-low $1.3 million from the $115 billion General Fund plan. None of the issues being followed by the Conference were changed as the Governor’s used his line-item veto authority.  He has, however, called two special sessions of the legislature to deal with health care and transportation costs which may result in additional spending. (See last week’s edition for a full report.)

Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Unions in the U.S.

Earlier this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision legalizing same-sex unions throughout the United States.  The landmark ruling, based on the 14th Amendment’s equal-protection clause, is a “tragic error” says Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic.

”The U.S. Supreme Court decision, June 26, interpreting the U.S. Constitution to require all states to license and recognize same-sex “marriage” “is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us,” said the Archbishop.” (Read the full statement.)

Subscribe to our Facebook and Twitter feed to keep track of updates on this developing story.

Earlier in the week, the Court upheld the legality of health care subsidies in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a 6-3 decision.  Based on a drafting discrepancy in the ACA, the plaintiffs had sought to remove health care subsidies for individuals who live in the 34 states that do not operate their own health care exchanges but instead rely on the Federal exchange.  California would not have been immediately impacted because it runs its own exchange – Covered California.  For our background story read Supreme Court to Rule on Subsidies for Affordable Care Act.


Fortnight for Freedom: Freedom to Bear Witness

By Monday, we will know the outcome of Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court case that will decide whether state laws banning same-sex “marriage” violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  Here in California, a bill – which fortunately is struggling – seeks to legalize physician assisted suicide (SB 128).

Both the definition of marriage case and SB 128 has profound implications for how individual Catholics, the Church and its institutions live our faith and carry out our mission. These are but two examples of the secular shift away from established Catholic teaching. From one side of our nation to the other, our shepherds are warning that “freedom to bear witness” to the great commission of Christ—go out into the world and preach the Good News—is in jeopardy.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez recently noted that we live in a more and more “de-Christianized” society and asked his audience, “So the question we all face is basic and stark:  How do we continue to live as Christians in a society that no longer has any room for Christ or for God?”

Read the full Blog Post by Judy Barrett

Climate Change is a Moral Issue: CA Bishops’ Statements on Encyclical

Bishop Stephen Blaire (Stockton), Bishop Xavier Ochoa (Fresno) and Bishop Jaime Soto (Sacramento) have jointly published an op-ed article amplifying the moral challenge of climate change expressed in Pope Francis’ Laudato Si but also pointing out the local challenges faced by the state in our ongoing drought.

“In California, we have been devastated for several years by severe drought,” write the three bishops whose dioceses comprise most of the California Central Valley. “This has hurt the health of our residents, risked the vitality of our waterways and harmed our economy.  No matter the explanations, Californians must learn to steward responsibly and reverentially our portion of God’s creation.”

Many California Bishops have also issued statements on the Encyclical, for links to them in their entirety, click here.