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%PM, %16 %028 %2015 %23:%Sep

SF GATE: Will Sacto enact this bad end-of-life bill?

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sf gate

By Debra J. Saunders Updated 6:23 pm, Monday, September 14, 2015

Gov. Jerry Brown convened a special session of the Legislature to fix a $1 billion shortfall in health care funding — and the bill the Legislature sent to his desk would legalize physician-assisted suicide.

Supporters of measure made this argument last week: The Legislature needed to pass the End of Life Option Act because if it did not become law, then advocates would place a similar measure on the ballot. Voters were sure to pass the measure, but if it created unforeseen problems, the Legislature might face hurdles trying to correct errors embedded in an inflexible ballot measure. “We should be making those decisions,” Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, argued on the Assembly floor.

You would never guess that state Sens. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, and Bill Monning, D-Carmel, couldn’t get the votes earlier to pass their own “death with dignity” bill out of the Assembly Health Committee because of opposition from fellow Democrats. So in a special-session gut-and-amend-style maneuver, supporters put the Wolk-Monning language into a special-session bill. Then the leadership put different lawmakers in the special-session health committee. In short, the leadership steamrolled opposition to pass a bill that could not have survived the usual legislative process Alejo holds so dear.

Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Nicolaus (Sutter County), tried to block the new measure on the grounds that it is not germane to the health care funding special session. The Assembly out voted him 41-28, so he must be wrong.

Most Republicans voted against the End of Life Option Act. I’ve heard from readers who believe this is hypocritical — as Republicans usually oppose government intrusion on personal decisions. They don’t realize that physician-assisted suicide laws put the state in the business of regulating suicide — a sad choice made by some 40,000 Americans annually as it is.

Democrats who spoke in opposition of the measure fear their constituents will receive less medical care if Brown signs it. Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, spoke of husband Hardy’s battle with ALS. Doctors predicted he would be dead a decade ago. “Had he done what this bill wants him to do, he’d not be here” today, she said, to see and enjoy his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“As soon as this is introduced, it immediately become the cheapest and most expedient way to deal with complicated end-of-life situations,” Aaron Kheriaty, director of the UC Irvine School of Medicine medical ethics program, told the New York Times. “You’re seeing the push for assisted suicide from generally white, upper-middle-class people, who are least likely to be pressured. You’re not seeing support from the under-insured and economically marginalized. Those people want access to better health care.”

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, said that a few years ago, she would have answered yes if a pollster asked if she supported legislation modeled after Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act. After all, she believes in “choices.” But as she thought about it, “There’s no hospital in my district. Care is through community clinics.” She resents the spin this summer that suggested that if you were a Southern California Latina and opposed the bill, it was because you’re Catholic. The real issue at play here is, “There aren’t a lot of communities like mine in Oregon.” Her big fear is not that her voters will get too much health care, it’s that they will get too little.

Debra J. Saunders is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. E-mail: dsaunders@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @DebraJSaunders. My husband, Wesley J. Smith, is a paid adviser for the Patients Rights Council, which opposes assisted suicide.

Source: SF Gate

Last modified on %AM, %21 %340 %2015 %07:%Sep


We Oppose Assisted Suicide

  • Access to Independence – San Diego
  • American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today – Northern California (ADAPT)
  • American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today – Southern California (ADAPT)
  • Alliance of Catholic Healthcare
  • American Academy of Medical Ethics (AAME)
  • American College of Physicians – American Society of Internal Medicine
  • American College of Pediatricians
  • American Medical Association
  • American Nursing Association
  • Association of Northern California Oncologists (ANCO)
  • Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL)
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN)
  • Berkeley Commission on Disability
  • California Catholic Conference
  • California Chapter of TASH (CalTASH)
  • California Disability Alliance (CDA)
  • California Family Alliance
  • California Family Council
  • California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (CFILC)
  • California Latino Medical Association
  • California Nurses for Ethical Standards (CNES)
  • California ProLife Council
  • California Right to Life Education Fund
  • California State Council on Developmental Disabilities
  • Californians for Disability Rights (CDR)
  • Catholics for the Common Good
  • Center for Independence of Individuals with Disabilities (CID)
  • Christian Medical and Dental Association
  • Coalition for Concerned Medical Professionals
  • Communities Actively Living Independents and Free (CALIF)
  • Crusade for Life
  • De La Salle Institute
  • Disability Rights Center
  • Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)
  • Disability Rights Enforcement Education Services (DREES)
  • Disability Section of the American Public Health Association
  • FREED, Center for Independent Living
  • Hispanics for Life
  • Independent Living Center of Southern California (ILCSC)
  • Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco (ILRCSF)
  • Independent Living Services of Northern California (ILSNC)
  • International Life Services
  • Joni and Friends
  • Justice for All (JFA)
  • La Raza Roundtable of Santa Clara County
  • League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
  • Life Priority Network
  • Life Legal Defense Foundation
  • Medical Oncology Association of Southern California (MOASC)
  • National Council on Disability
  • National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)
  • National Spinal Cord Injury Association
  • Not Dead Yet – California Chapter
  • Not Dead Yet (NDY)
  • Oakland Mayors Commission on Human Relations
  • Patients Rights Council
  • Physicians for Compassionate Care
  • Placer Independent Resource Services, Inc.
  • Pro-Life America
  • Right to Life League of Southern California
  • San Mateo County, CA
  • Scholl Institute of Bioethics
  • Second Thoughts, People Living with Disabilities Opposing Assisted Suicide
  • Southern California Cancer Pain Initiative
  • TASH
  • The Arc of California
  • The California Catholic Conference
  • The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network (CBC Network)
  • The Oaks Group
  • West Coast Pro Life
  • Western Service Workers Association
  • World Association of Persons with Disabilities (WAPD)