By Gudrun Schultz

  SAN FRANCISCO, California, February 15, 2007 ( – California’s Speaker of the House has signed a bill to introduce legal physician-assisted suicide in the state, in a move likely to give fresh weight to a measure that failed to pass the Senate last year.

  Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez added his signature as one of three joint authors of the bill, scheduled to be presented today at the state Capitol, the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday.

“The Speaker has thought long and hard about this issue. The joint authors have even more safeguards in place than they have in Oregon—and Oregon has proven itself sound for a decade. Now, it’s California’s turn,” said spokesman for the speaker Richard Stapler.

  The proposal is patterned after Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide law and is close to identical in content to the bill introduced in 2006. Democrats Patty Berg and Lloyd Levine also signed the measure—the pair were authors of last year’s proposal. Berg is reportedly advocating for legislative support and has so far gained the backing of 17 Assembly members and seven state Senators.

  Last years’ attempt to legalize assisted suicide triggered strenuous opposition by lobby groups for the disabled, who saw in the proposal a serious threat to their future rights and protections.

“There are the folks who see it as a right-to-life issue, and there are the folks who see it as a right-to-death issue,” Teresa Favuzzi, director of the California Federation of Independent Living Centers, which opposed the bill, told the Sacramento Bee at the time. “And for the disability community, it’s about the right to live, to be seen as valuable.”

  Bill AB651 was defeated in a 3-2 vote June 2006 by the Senate Judiciary Committee of California, with Democrat Joe Dunn casting the deciding vote out of concern the bill would lead to the future practice of active euthanasia.

  See related LifeSiteNews coverage:

  Activist Groups for Disabled Protest California Assisted-Suicide Bill

  California Legislators Defeat Assisted Suicide Bill