U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Could Lead To Action on Legislation To Legalize Physician-Assisted Suicide
The 6-3 Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday that physician-assisted suicide in Oregon does not violate the federal Controlled Substances Act could "pav[e] the way" for California to pass assisted-suicide legislation, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. The California legislation (AB 651) would permit terminally ill adults with who will live for six months to self-administer life-ending medications prescribed by a doctor (Los Angeles Daily News, 1/18).
According to the Los Angeles Times, Tuesday's ruling "erased a significant legal objection" to the bill, but "the ethical qualms of wavering lawmakers remain a substantial obstacle to approval this year" (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 1/18).
The bill was introduced last year, and was approved by two Assembly committees (Puzzanghera, San Jose Mercury News, 1/18). However, Assembly members Patty Berg (D-Santa Rosa) and Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys), who co-authored the bill, pulled it from consideration in the Assembly when they found it did not have sufficient support to pass. Berg then used a parliamentary move to put the bill before the Senate for consideration (Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/18).
The bill is scheduled for a Senate committee hearing in March (Whitney/Benson, Sacramento Bee, 1/18).
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) said that he would consider the bill if it is approved by the Legislature but that he would "have to see the way it is written so that [he] can comment on it" (Los Angeles Daily News, 1/17). Schwarzenegger on Tuesday would not discuss his views on assisted suicide.
Levine said that if the bill fails to pass this year, "we'll have a whole lot of re-educating to do" because many lawmakers' terms will reach their limits (Los Angeles Times, 1/18).
KPCC's "AirTalk" on Tuesday included a discussion of the ruling. Guests on the program included:
- John Eastman, professor at Chapman University School of Law;
- Hank Greeley, professor at Stanford University School of Law; and
- Levine (Mantle, "AirTalk," KPCC, 1/17).
In addition, KPBS' "KPBS News" on Monday reported on lawmakers' plans plan to reintroduce a bill that would legalize physician-assisted suicide in California. The segment includes comments from Will Shuck, spokesperson for Berg (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 1/16). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. 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.