Right-To-Die Bill Unlikely To Pass in 2015 After Stalling in Assembly
Amid continued opposition, the authors of a bill (SB 128) that would allow physician-assisted death in California withdrew the measure from an Assembly Committee on Health hearing on Tuesday, making it unlikely to be passed this year, the Los Angeles Times' "PolitiCal" reports (McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 7/7).
The End of Life Options Act, by state Sens. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) and William Monning (D-Carmel), would allow some dying patients to end their lives through lethal doses of medication. The measure would require that:
- 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, 6/24).
In June, the state Senate voted 23-15 to pass SB 128 (Koseff/White, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/7). The Assembly committee then was scheduled to consider the bill on June 23, but the hearing was delayed due to a lack of necessary support (California Healthline, 6/24).
Details of Opposition, Withdrawal of Bill
According to "Capitol Alert," the measure stalled again on Tuesday largely because of personal objections by committee members.
According to a Sacramento Bee poll of 15 of the 19 committee members, just four said they would support the bill in its current form. Meanwhile, it found that at least seven members planned to oppose the bill in the hearing, while others planned to abstain from the vote.
Amid the opposition, the authors of the bill pulled it from the hearing.
In an email, Assembly Committee on Health Secretary Patty Rodgers said, "The authors will not pursue this bill this year," adding that she was "waiting on a statement from the authors explaining details and future plans" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/7).
In an interview, Monning said that SB 128 is "not dead" and that supporters are "going to review our options."
He added, "We invested a lot of energy in the Senate side, and we walk away from the decision today knowing that we're going to have to spend more time cultivating our colleagues in the Assembly" (Aliferis, "State of Health," KQED, 7/7).
The bill faces a July 17 committee deadline. However, it is unclear whether the authors will be able to garner enough support by then, "Capitol Alert" reports ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/7).
According to "PolitiCal," the bill could potentially be taken up in August if certain deadlines and rules are waived. However, observers say a vote this year is unlikely.
In a statement, the bill's authors said they would work with Assembly members "to ensure they are comfortable with the bill" ("PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 7/7).
Meanwhile, other supporters have vowed to seek a 2016 ballot initiative to legalize physician-assisted death if the measure fails ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/7).
Headlines and links to broadcast coverage of the withdrawal of SB 128 are provided below.
- "California Right-To-Die Bill Stalls" (Orr, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 7/7).
- "California Physician-Assisted Suicide Bill Stalls Amid Religious Opposition" (O'Neill, "KPCC News," KPCC, 7/7).