Divided Assembly Set To Vote on Assisted Suicide Legislation
Legislation (AB 374) that would legalize physician-assisted suicide for some terminally ill patients in California is receiving mixed views from Democrats and staunch opposition from Republicans as the bill is set for a vote this week, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Geissinger, San Jose Mercury News, 6/6).
Assembly members Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys) and Patty Berg (D-Santa Rosa) co-authored a physician-assisted suicide bill last year that was passed in the Assembly but defeated by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Levine and Berg reintroduced the measure this year along with Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) (California Healthline, 5/23).
Núñez recently ordered amendments to the legislation in an effort to sway undecided Democratic lawmakers.
The amended measure would permit terminally ill patients to request a life-ending prescription if they have only three months to live, reduced from six months under the original bill.
Despite the revisions, Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines (R-Fresno) said "there will be no votes for" the legislation from Republican Assembly members.
About a half-dozen of the 48 Democrats in the 80-member Assembly are likely to vote against the bill, while an additional 10 members remain undecided.
The measure needs 41 votes for approval (San Jose Mercury News, 6/6).
NPR's "Talk of the Nation" on Wednesday included a discussion on topics related to physician-assisted suicide, including the California bill and the Oregon law on which it is based.
Guests on the program included:
- Linda Ganzini, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Oregon Health and Science University; and
- Nancy Kelem, who has incurable colon cancer and works as an advocate for the California bill (Conan, "Talk of the Nation," NPR, 6/5).
Audio of the segment is available online. 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.