Ned Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, released the following statement today following a state Senate committee vote approving SB 128 (Wolk) a proposed law legalizing physician assisted suicide. The bill must still be considered by the Senate Judiciary and Appropriations Committees before it reaches the full Senate.
"Today's action by the Senate Health Committee to advance SB 128 is sad and disappointing.
"We understand and share the concern for the dying expressed at today's hearing. It is a natural impulse for human beings. But when someone asks for assistance in killing themselves, it is really a call for help, care and compassion during the dying process. California law already allows for patients to refuse extraordinary care, but that is a far cry from aiding a patient in actively ending his or her life.
"Since Ancient Greece, doctors have been called to bring comfort, peace and minimal pain to the dying, not death. With the development of such medical specialties as palliative care, the art and science of caring and comforting the dying has never been so well developed and practiced.
"In every jurisdiction where assisted suicide is allowed, we are witnessing a steady expansion of those eligible to end their own lives. The 'safeguards' in SB 128 are illusory precisely because they are arbitrarily set, with no sound medical rationale. In some countries like Belgium and the Netherlands, for instance, we are witnessing the expansion of assisted suicide to non-terminal patients, those with dementia and even children.
"The California Catholic Conference will continue to actively and vigorously oppose this bill."