Bioethics Blogs

Physician-Assisted Suicide Almost Law in California

Previously considered “dead” for this year (including by me), the legislative proposal to legalize physician-assisted suicide in California was “resurrected” and introduced in a special session addressing health care financing.

Yesterday (Wednesday, September 9), the bill passed the California State Assembly, 42-33.  It is certain to pass the State Senate, which readily approved the original bill that had been voted down by a different Assembly committee than the one that handled the revived bill.

Whether Governor Jerry Brown will sign the bill is not certain.  Some have surmised that he might veto it, given his Catholic faith, his past work with Mother Theresa, and/or concerns about justice or the process followed in the Assembly.  It would seem ironic that a PAS bill would be considered in a session devoted to health finance.  It is not clear to me whether the bill, designated AB2X-15, was attached as a rider to another bill or just re-introduced at what its sponsors found was an opportune time.

The text of the bill is here, and analyses can be found here.

The news coverage I have seen refers to objections from Christians and from advocates for the disabled, but says nothing about the revolution in the nature of medicine that increasingly appears a done deal.

Opponents of the practice, like me, should, I suppose, prepare to fight for conscientious objector rights, to refuse to participate, and to protect vulnerable people from being taken advantage of.

The California bill would limit PAS to terminally ill people, at least for now.  But I note what the Economist magazine wrote on June 27 of this year:

“No one wants to make suicide easier for the depressed: many will recover and enjoy life again.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.