Monterey County Herald
July 8th, 2015
A proposal that would allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medicine to terminally ill patients has been stalled in the state Legislature, signaling that Californians may not be ready for such a law.
Supporters had been full speed ahead on the legislation, but when concerns were raised by some state Democrats, the bill’s sponsors decided to withdraw the proposal from consideration by a key Assembly committee. One of the bill’s sponsors, state Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, has vowed to move ahead with his bill, even while acknowledging that it may not have enough support yet from fellow lawmakers.
“We lacked confidence in having the precise number of votes we needed,” said Monning, after the authors withdrew the bill from a scheduled hearing. “We didn’t want to roll the dice and have an end of the road today. We chose not to present it and are exploring our other options.”
Despite our qualified support of the efforts by end-of-life advocates to establish some sort of legal assisted suicide law for California, we are encouraged that others with concerns about its legalization have stepped forward. We’re sympathetic to those who passionately believe in legal assisted suicide, but we’re not convinced that all Californians are on board.
There are simply too many people with legal and moral concerns, and some state legislators stepped forward to give a voice to them.
Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona, said the proposal conflicted with his beliefs based on his years working as an emergency medical technician. He told the Los Angeles Times: “I was there to protect and preserve life and give folks a second chance. It’s just something I couldn’t come to grips with in this bill.”
Another Southern California Democrat, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, said her mother died from a terminal illness but lived longer than her doctors had predicted.
The bill got its start in part by the publicity surrounding the case of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old terminally ill patient who moved to Oregon to fulfill her desire to end her life. Her belief in assisted suicide was powerful, and many supporters argued that California should have a bill similar to Oregon’s. But we’re always skeptical of legislation that results from news coverage, because often the issue at hand is more complex than just one person’s story.
What might have been right for Maynard and her family might not be the right fit for others. And it might not be right for medical personnel, for families in conflict or for those with religious and ethical concerns.
That’s not to say that we are entirely opposed to the idea of assisted suicide. But the legalization of it is something that might take time for Californians to become used to and need not be part of what seems to be a quickened pace of legislation establishing social changes often favored by the progressive left. We appreciate the concerns of dissenters. Establishing a legal procedure for assisted suicide should be done with care, and winning support from all factions of Californians is going to take some time.