Voters Should Decide on Physician-Assisted Suicide, Gov. Says
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Tuesday said that voters, rather than the Legislature, should decide whether to legalize physician-assisted suicide for some terminally ill patients, the Los Angeles Times reports (Salladay/Rau, Los Angeles Times, 1/25).
Speaking at a meeting of the Sacramento Press Club, Schwarzenegger declined to state specifically if he would veto a bill to legalize assisted suicide (Marois, AP/Salt Lake Tribune, 1/25). However, the Times reports that the governor "signaled that he would veto legislation on the issue" if the Legislature approves it (Los Angeles Times, 1/25).
Proponents of physician-assisted suicide in the state are hoping to use polls showing public support for the idea to win approval of a bill (AB 651), which was introduced last year.
Under the bill, by Assembly members Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys) and Wilma Chan (D-Oakland), certain terminally ill patients would be able to obtain a lethal dose of medication from physicians. Patients would be subject to a waiting period and multiple medical evaluations.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the bill in March (Martin, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/25).
Levine said if the measure is approved by the Legislature, rather than by ballot, it will be easier to change in the future (Sarhaddi Nelson/Kim Quach, Orange County Register, 1/25). In addition, the Legislature would be able to strengthen the definition of assisted suicide through the bill, Levine said (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/25).
Controller Steve Westly (D) and Treasurer Phil Angelides (D), candidates for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, both support legalizing physician-assisted suicide (Smith, Sacramento Bee, 1/25).