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Insights: Physician Assisted Suicide Re-Surfaces, Alerts in Support of Life

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August 21, 2015

Desperate Physician-Assisted Suicide Advocates Conjure Up a New Bill

Revitalization efforts are under way to legalize physician-assisted suicide.  The original bill (SB 128) stalled in the Assembly Health Committee and is essentially finished for the year, but there was always a concern the bill could make its way back into this legislative session.   This week, proponents introduced it as a new bill, ABx2 15 (Eggman, D-Stockton) in a special session committee, Public Health and Development Services.

This special session was called by the governor and this committee was created to deal with Medi-Cal funding issues, but ABx2 15 was introduced with a copy of a previous version of SB 128 attached. These special committees act as a fast-track for legislation. Gone are the lengthy debates and numerous committee hearings.  The bill could pass out of this health committee then go to a special finance committee, the floor and the opposite house all within a week.

Fortunately, Governor Brown’s office announced that including this bill in a discussion on health care costs was inappropriate and that the legislation should be dealt with during the regular session.  His announcement is a good insight into how the Governor would act on this bill if it landed on his desk -  but nothing is certain.

According to Californians Against Assisted Suicide: “This is a heavy-handed attempt to force through a bill that could not get any traction at all in committee. It’s one thing to run roughshod over the normal committee and legislative process to jam through a district bill but to do so on what is literally a life-and-death issue is clearly abusive and should concern all Americans.”

An alert is available for you to send a letter to all members of the legislature. Please make your voice heard on this important issue and urge them to vote “NO” on ABx2 15.  You can also read more about the policy debate on doctor's prescribing lethal dosages to patients and Catholic teaching on the end-of-life.  (See related story below on Federal courts rejecting the theory of a constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide.)

Alerts in Support of Life Need Your Support Now

Time is precious in the last few weeks of a legislative session.  Things can happen quickly and unexpectedly so please take action on all the following as soon as you can:

Unfair Legislation May Discourage Women from Getting Help at Pregnancy Centers - AB 775, authored by Assembly Member David Chiu (D-San Francisco), would discriminate against any and all pregnancy centers or clinics that hold a pro-life viewpoint.  

Help Families, Children Living on the Margin - Urge a YES Vote on SB 23 - The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program provides cash assistance to families with incomes below the federal poverty level.  Current rules may push some women into abortions.  SB 23 addresses this issue by eliminating the Maximum Family Grant.

Defund Planned Parenthood! - Please send a message to your elected representatives urging that they introduce and pass a measure that removes funding from Planned Parenthood and its affiliates around the nation.

Constitution Guarantees Religious Schools Can Select Teachers, Others 

Do Catholic schools have the right to insist that teachers they hire help promote the Church’s mission and refrain from contradicting Catholic teachings in the classroom and in their public actions?

This question is part of the battle increasingly being waged against the authority of religious employers to carry out their faith in the public square. This is true across the country, including California, where the Archdiocese of San Francisco as well as the dioceses of Santa Rosa and Oakland have faced some resistance to their efforts to support the Catholic identity of their schools.

Earlier this year, for example, Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore J. Cordileone proposed new language in teacher contracts that Catholic schools “exist to affirm and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as held and taught by his Catholic Church.” The proposed language affects four archdiocesan high schools where the teachers belong to a union and are negotiating a collective bargaining agreement.

Continue Reading

For the latest from the Archdiocese on this issue, click here.

More Courts Reject Physician-Assisted Suicide

The number of states where doctor-assisted suicide is legal, dropped by one in mid-August when the New Mexico Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling that had attempted to make suicide assistance legal.

The decision came down a few days before a second California court denied lawsuits seeking to revoke state law that prohibits people from helping others to commit suicide.  (Cases were brought in San Diego and San Francisco.)

The New Mexico decision leaves four states (Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana) where aid in taking your own life remains legal.

In a lengthy decision the New Mexico court concluded “that aid in dying is not a fundamental liberty interest under the New Mexico Constitution.”

The case was filed more than two-and-a-half years ago by a 50-year-old Santa Fe woman diagnosed with aggressive uterine cancer. She was told that she had limited time left to live. Two doctors seeking the right to provide life-ending drugs are part of the case.

The plaintiff remains alive today with her cancer in remission. Her attorneys said she would appeal to the state’s Supreme Court.

Last year a New Mexico trial court had ruled in her favor, asserting that doctors could help people take their own lives. New Mexico appealed the pro-suicide ruling, leading to last week’s appellate court decision.


August 21, 2015
Vol. 8, No. 30

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