Bill To Legalize Physician-Assisted Suicide Among Those That Could Return in 2006
The Legislature in 2006 could reconsider as many as 1,900 bills that it did not approve in 2005, including a measure to legalize physician-assisted suicide, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (Lawrence, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/3).
AB 651, by Assembly members Patty Berg (D-Santa Rosa) and Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys), would have allowed state residents ages 18 and older with no more than six months to live to end their lives with a self-administered prescription. A patient's terminal condition would have to be diagnosed by two physicians, and the patient would be required to complete a series of patient-doctor consultations, generally lasting at least two weeks.
The bill would not have authorized lethal injection, mercy killings or euthanasia, nor would it have authorized physician-assisted suicide in cases in which the patient is diagnosed with depression. It was modeled after a 1994 Oregon law that legalized physician-assisted suicide in some cases.
The bill was approved by two Assembly committees but was never sent the full Assembly for a vote. Levine and Berg used a parliamentary maneuver to send the bill to the Senate without an Assembly vote, but stopped action on the bill when it appeared there was not sufficient support to pass it (California Healthline, 7/12/05).
The Legislature also could consider new versions of the 232 bills Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) vetoed in 2005 (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/3).