Full Assembly To Consider Right-To-Die Legislation
On Friday, an Assembly special finance committee advanced a bill (ABX2-15) that aims to legalize physician-assisted death in California, sending the measure to the full Assembly on Tuesday, the Sacramento Bee reports (Koseff, Sacramento Bee, 9/4).
Background on Bill
Assembly member Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) introduced the legislation after a similar measure (SB 128) stalled in July amid a lack of support in the Assembly Committee on Health.
ABX2-15 includes the same provisions as the stalled bill, which would have allowed some dying patients to end their lives through lethal doses of medication, as long as:
- 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 (California Healthline, 9/2).
Assembly Finance Committee analysts have estimated that the bill would cost the state Department of Public Health about $250,000 annually to implement (Calefati, San Jose Mercury News, 9/4).
Several amendments have been added to the bill in the special session, including one that would require patients to reaffirm their consent within 48 hours prior to taking the lethal dose of medication (Sacramento Bee, 9/4).
The bill's authors also added an amendment that would sunset the law after a decade, making it effective only until Jan. 1, 2026, if passed.
State Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel), a co-author of the measure, called the sunset clause "an effective tool to assuage concerns of some members and build confidence," adding, "If some of their concerns about patient protections are valid, there's a way to revisit the whole issue."
Monning said the addition of both amendments makes proponents "as well postured as any other time in the history of this state to pass this historic legislation" (Aliferis, "State of Health," KQED, 9/4).
Reaction From Opponents
ABX2-15 is opposed by:
- Associations representing oncologists;
- The Catholic Church; and
- Disability rights activists (California Healthline, 9/2).
Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, said the sunset clause "does not make the law more acceptable."
Golden called the bill "a recipe for abuse," noting that an "heir who stands to inherit, or an abusive caregiver, can steer a person -- legally witness their request, pick up the lethal dose and even administer it, because no objective witness is required at the death" ("State of Health," KQED, 9/4).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.