Doctor-Assisted Suicide Bill Pulled Before Assembly Vote
The authors of legislation (AB 374) that would have legalized physician-assisted suicide for some terminally ill patients in California pulled the bill on Thursday before its scheduled vote because of a lack of support, the Los Angeles Daily News reports (Geissinger, Los Angeles Daily News, 6/8).
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, 6/6).
The legislation is modeled after an existing Oregon law (Myers, "Capital Notes," KQED, 6/7).
The bill needed 41 votes to pass out of the Assembly (Los Angeles Daily News, 6/8).
Levine said the legislation was shelved because "too many of our colleagues were saying they were uncomfortable voting for it." He added, "I recognize this involved death and religion -- two topics that are very important and very personal" (Martin/Lucas, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/8).
Núñez said he thinks California voters were ready to support such a measure, "but it's very difficult because of the way the issue has been demonized by the religious right and by groups that obviously have campaigned very hard against it."
However, Marilyn Golden -- a policy analyst with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, which opposed the bill -- pointed out that groups representing physicians, people with disabilities and the poor also opposed the measure because of concerns that people could be pressured into requesting assisted suicide (Vogel, Los Angeles Times, 6/8).
Will Shuck, chief of staff for Berg, said the legislation may be reintroduced next year (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 6/8).