Brown Admin Slams Right-To-Die Discussion in Special Session
Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) administration said the current special session on health care financing is not the appropriate time to consider legislation that would legalize physician-assisted death, the AP/New York Times reports (AP/New York Times, 8/18).
The comments come in response to the introduction on Tuesday of a new right-to-die bill (ABX2-15), by Assembly member Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), which includes the same provisions as a Senate measure (SB 128) that stalled earlier this year (Dembosky, "State of Health," KQED, 8/18).
The End of Life Option Act, by state Sens. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) and Bill Monning (D-Carmel), would have allowed some dying patients to end their lives through lethal doses of medication. The measure would have required that:
- 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.
The authors of the bill withdrew it from an Assembly Committee on Health hearing in July amid a lack of support (California Healthline, 8/18). According to the AP/Times, the new bill would bypass the committee.
Brown Administration's Reaction
On Tuesday, Brown administration spokesperson Deborah Hoffman said the special session is not the right time to consider such legislation (AP/New York Times, 8/18). Hoffman said lawmakers instead should reconsider such a measure next year.
Hoffman did not indicate whether Brown would veto right-to-die legislation if it were passed during the special session (Nirappil, AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/18).
Eggman defended the decision to reintroduce the legislation during the special session. She said, "It's about making health care work better," adding, "Health care is about providing care, but it's also about providing relief at the end of life."
A spokesperson for Eggman added that she would continue to push for the measure, despite Brown's concerns (McGreevy/Megerian, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 8/18).
Other Reaction From Supporters, Opponents
At a news conference on Tuesday, Assembly member Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) said, "Californians should have more options available to those suffering constantly other than moving to other states or living in constant pain."
Meanwhile, opponents of the measure called it a "heavy-handed" attempt to advance legislation that failed in the normal session.
Tim Rosales, a spokesperson for Californians Against Assisted Suicide, said, "It is particularly troubling that ... proponents are linking this bill with health care financing," adding, "That should be truly frightening to those on Medi-Cal and subsidized health care, who quite logically fear a system where prescribing suicide pills could be elevated to a treatment option."
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (AP/New York Times, 8/18).
Headlines and links to broadcast coverage of the right-to-die legislation are provided below.
- "Renewed Effort To Pass Right-To-Die Legislation" (Orr, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 8/18).
- "California Lawmakers Revive Assisted Suicide Bill" (O'Neill, "KPCC News," KPCC, 8/18).