Physician-Assisted Suicide Bill Shelved; Other Legislative Action Highlighted
Assembly members Patty Berg (D-Santa Rosa) and Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys) will not push for a floor vote on a bill (AB 651) that would have legalized physician-assisted suicide in some cases after they said they would not be able to get enough votes to pass it, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Levine said he and Berg plan to reintroduce in January a bill that would legalize physician-assisted suicide (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 7/12).
AB 651 would have allowed state residents ages 18 and older with no more than six months to live to end their lives with a self-administered prescription. A patient's terminal condition would have to be diagnosed by two physicians, and the patient would be required to complete a series of patient-doctor consultations, generally lasting at least two weeks.
The bill would not have authorized lethal injection, mercy killings or euthanasia, nor would it have authorized physician-assisted suicide in cases in which the patient is diagnosed with depression. It was modeled after a 1994 Oregon law that legalized physician-assisted suicide in some cases (California Healthline, 5/26).
Levine said the bill faced opposition from some lawmakers who oppose physician-assisted suicide for religious reasons.
The bill had cleared two committees but never reached a vote on the Assembly floor (Vogel, Los Angeles Times, 7/12). Last month, Levine and Berg used a parliamentary maneuver to send the bill to the Senate without an Assembly vote (Sacramento Bee, 7/12).
Levine said he and Berg had secured 33 of the 41 votes necessary to pass the bill in the Assembly (Los Angeles Times, 7/12). When it became apparent they might not have enough support in the Senate either, Levine and Berg decided to shelve the bill, the Bee reports (Sacramento Bee, 7/12).
The California Catholic Conference, the California League of United Latin American Citizens and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund and other groups opposed the bill (Los Angeles Times, 7/12).
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) had not taken a position on the bill, according to the Bee (Sacramento Bee, 7/12).
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday was expected to review a bill (AB 815) that would mandate workplace protection against toxic chemical exposure equal to standards set for environmental exposure under Proposition 65 and related regulations, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Proposition 65 is California's anti-toxics law.
According to the Mercury News, the bill could "force Schwarzenegger to make a sensitive choice between limiting potential burdens on business and maintaining his image as a champion of the environment and public health."
Those who support the bill say as many as 15 chemicals on the Proposition 65 list known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity are not regulated in the workplace. Those who oppose the bill say it would circumvent the authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Schoenberger, San Jose Mercury News, 7/9).
In other legislative news, Sen. Jack Scott (D-Pasadena) last week moved to hold until the next legislative session a bill (SB 192) that would create protections for seniors from sales scams, including insurance fraud.
The bill would require insurers to set standards for when it is appropriate to sell annuities to buyers age 65 and older and to reject contracts that could hurt seniors. Supporters of the bill, including Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi (D) and senior advocacy groups, say it seeks to limit senior abuse while allowing vendors to sell financial products to seniors. Opponents of the bill, including many insurers, say the bill is anti-business.
Scott said he will attempt to address insurers' concerns while maintaining protections for seniors. Scott's first draft of the bill required insurers to take into account a senior's age, insurance goals and financial sophistication and sign a document verifying that they had done so (Saillant, Los Angeles Times, 7/10).