SACRAMENTO, Calif. — An assisted-suicide bill in California has been temporarily pulled from a key committee in the state legislature, but its opponents say more work is necessary to sway legislators against it.
Bill opponent Californians Against Assisted Suicide said the move was only “a brief respite.”
“We know that the death-promoters are committed to use every avenue they can: the media, the courts, the legislature,” the group said. “They will be back.”
Bill sponsor, state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, agreed June 23 to pull the bill from the Assembly Health Committee until July 7 to avoid a required vote on the bill. She intends to work to gain more support for the bill, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The California Senate has already passed S.B. 128, “The End of Life Options Act,” by a vote of 23-14. A similar bill failed to pass the California Legislature in 2007.
The legislation would allow doctors to prescribe lethal prescriptions to patients who have six months or less to live and is modeled on the assisted-suicide law in Oregon.
The bill was introduced following a publicity campaign involving Brittany Maynard, a former California resident with terminal brain cancer. She partnered with the pro-assisted-suicide group Compassion & Choices to advocate legalizing the practice. After she moved to Oregon, she killed herself with doctor-prescribed drugs in November, at the age of 29.
About 300 opponents of the bill gathered at Los Angeles’ Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on Tuesday.
“We’re hoping to convince people to take a stand against the bill,” Andrew Rivas, director of government and community relations for the Los Angeles archdiocese, told The Tidings.
He said the bill “sends the message that there’s a segment of our society that we refuse to invest in.”
Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles had written committee chairman Rep. Bob Bonta, D-Oakland, June 16 asking the assembly health committee to reject the bill.
He said the bill has “dangerous implications” for Californians, especially the poor and vulnerable.
“We cannot respond to human suffering by simply making it easier for people to kill themselves,” he said.
“Helping someone to die — even if that person is desperate and asks for that help — is still killing. It is responding to the needs of neighbors with indifference, with the cold comfort of death.”
The archbishop acknowledged fears of terminal illness, chronic pain and loss of independence. He said the answer to fear and a broken system is “to fix the system and address the fears … not to kill the one who is afraid and suffering.”
He said the bill would lead to a “quick-fix ‘solution’ that involves killing people we find too difficult, too burdensome or too expensive to take care of.”
Other religious leaders have spoken out against the bill, including Rev. Eugene Rivers, a Pentecostal minister from Boston, who has testified against the California bill.
Rivers told The Tidings that the bill is based on the idea that the human condition “must be exempted from suffering.” He added that most of the staffers in the legislature had not considered how the bill would affect the poor.
He said assisted suicide is “not really mercy,” but “an act of opportunistic convenience, which, in many cases, simply serves the interests of the wealthy at the expense of the poor.”