American College of Physicians Urges Brown To Veto Right-To-Die Bill
This week, the president of the American College of Physicians sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown (D) urging him to veto a bill (ABX2-15) that would legalize physician-assisted death in California, MD Magazine reports (Scott, MD Magazine, 9/16).
Background on Right-To-Die Bill
Last week, California lawmakers sent ABX2-15 to Brown. Assembly member Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) introduced the legislation after a similar measure (SB 128) stalled in July amid a lack of support in the Assembly Committee on Health.
Like the stalled bill, ABX2-15 would allow some dying patients to end their lives through lethal doses of medication, as long as:
- Medication is self-administered;
- The patient is mentally competent; and
- Two physicians confirm the prognosis that the patient has six months or less to live.
Several amendments were added to the bill in the special session, including one that would require patients to reaffirm their consent within 48 hours prior to taking the lethal dose of medication.
The bill's authors also added an amendment that would sunset the law after a decade, making it effective only until Jan. 1, 2026, if passed. However, the state Legislature could vote to extend it.
Brown has 12 days from the bill's passage to sign or veto the measure, or to let it become law without his signature. He has not yet indicated whether he will sign the measure (California Healthline, 9/14).
Details of Letter
ACP is the largest medical specialty group and second-largest doctors' group in the U.S.
In the letter, ACP President Wayne Riley wrote, "Terms such as 'end of life option' and 'aid-in-dying' used in the bill are confusing and obscure what is at stake when physicians are asked to facilitate suicide," adding, "It is not the role of the physician to give individuals control over the cause and timing of death -- the medicalization of suicide."
Riley wrote that physician-assisted death "undermines trust in patient-physician relationships and trust in the profession of medicine," adding, "We need to ensure that all patients have access to palliative care and hospice services at the end of life rather than promote suicide" (ACP letter, 9/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.