Future of Physician-Assisted Suicide Efforts Unclear
Supporters of legislation to legalize physician-assisted suicide are considering how they will proceed after a Senate committee rejected a measure to legalize the practice, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Opponents of the measure say they will continue to lobby against physician-assisted suicide (Harmon, San Jose Mercury News, 7/10).
AB 651 would have allowed doctors to prescribe a life-ending drug dose for terminally ill patients who had been found mentally competent by two physicians and had fewer than six months to live. Patients would have to self-administer the dose.
The measure, modeled after a 1997 Oregon law, would have allowed doctors to refuse to participate. The U.S. Supreme Court in January upheld the Oregon law (California Healthline, 6/28).
Opponents of the measure say they had built sufficient opposition in the Senate and Assembly to defeat the bill even if it had passed the committee vote.
A measure to legalize physician-assisted suicide appeared on the ballot in 1992, but the Mercury News reports that supporters are "reluctant to try it again on the ballot" (San Jose Mercury News, 7/10).
"[I]t looks as though the doctor-assisted suicide issue is going through the voter-signature route to qualify for the ballot, probably no sooner than 2008," an Oakland Tribune editorial states. Putting the issue on the ballot is "a good idea," the editorial states, adding, "For many people, assisted suicide is an emotional, moral issue that the public should have a say in resolving" (Oakland Tribune, 7/8).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.