Physician-Assisted Suicide Bill Approved by California Judiciary Committee

Republicans cast the 3 dissenting votes while 7 Democrat members supported measure
Wed Mar 28, 2007 - 12:15 pm EST

By Gudrun Schultz

  SACRAMENTO, California, March 28, 2007 ( - A proposal to legalize physician-assisted suicide in California passed a 10-member Assembly Judiciary Committee March 27, bringing the measure one step closer to a legislative vote.

  The proposed legislation, AB 374, passed the Democrat-controlled committee in a 7-3 vote—Republicans cast the three dissenting votes while the seven Democrat members uniformly supported the measure.

  Called the California Compassionate Choices Act by authors Patty Berg and Lloyd Levine, the bill was introduced on Feb. 15, 2007.

  The measure is virtually identical to the assisted-suicide bill that failed last year in the 2005-2006 legislative session, according to the California Catholic Conference, which has been an active participant in fighting against the legalization of assisted suicide. The proposed bill would make it legal for a doctor to prescribe lethal drugs to a person diagnosed with a terminal disease and given six months or less to live. 

  The authors of the bill recruited the Speaker of the Assembly, Fabian Nunez, as a co-author for the current attempt to pass the legislation. The authors stated that “this time it would pass” during a press conference, and defended the measure as “aid in dying” and “compassionate choice,” avoiding the more explicit and politically counter-productive term “suicide”.

  Campaign for Children and Families, a leading West Coast pro-family organization, issued a statement yesterday condemning the bill.

“Doctors must be healers, not killers,” said CCF president Randy Thomasson. “Depressed patients need love, family, spiritual counsel, and proven pain medication, not handed what amounts to a gun to the head. AB 374 must not become law. Because HMOs (Health Maintenance Organization—restricted health insurance) are the controlling force for so many physicians, it’s inevitable that hospitals and hospices would soon view patients as more expensive alive than dead.”

  A powerful coalition of opponents to assisted suicide is committed to preventing the passage of the bill. Californians Against Assisted Suicide (CAAS) includes medical and hospice personnel, advocates for low-income workers, a Latino civil rights group, disability rights organizations and Catholic and pro-life groups.

“The compassionate answer for terminal patients is effective pain management, not suicide,” Thomasson said. “God created us, and no innocent human being between womb and tomb deserves to be murdered, no matter what it’s called. Legalizing so-called ‘voluntary’ suicide today will lead to involuntary suicide tomorrow, as demonstrated by the ongoing Netherlands tragedy.”

“What a horrifying nightmare to hear a nurse come up to you and say ‘the doctor will kill you now.’ Governor Schwarzenegger shouldn’t allow himself or anyone else to play God. He should pledge to veto this ‘Dr. Death’ bill without delay.”

  The CCF is encouraging supporters to contact California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and urge him to announce his opposition to AB 374.

  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
  State Capitol Building
  Sacramento, CA 95814
  Phone: 916-445-2841
  Fax: 916-445-4633

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