After being passed by California’s upper house, SB 128, the bill that would legalize physician-assisted suicide, was suddenly pulled by its proponents from a required hearing by the Assembly Health Committee hearing on June 23.
“The postponement of the Assembly Health Committee hearing on SB 128 is only a brief respite,” Californians Against Assisted Suicide warned in a statement. “We know that the death promoters are committed to use every avenue they can, the media, the courts, the legislature. We know they will still bring the bill back to Assembly Health. They will be back.”
The suicide of Brittany Maynard last November and the end-of-life choice group Compassion & Choices ignited the assisted-suicide debate, sparking the proposed legislation in the Golden State. Maynard, a 29-year-old Californian, had moved to Portland, Oregon, with her husband to use that state’s “Death with Dignity” act. She had been diagnosed by doctors with an inoperable brain tumor.
The day before Nov. 1 — the day Maynard had announced she would end her life by taking a doctor-prescribed medication — the young woman called the whole thing off in a video until “the time feels right.” But the following day, Compassion & Choices confirmed that Maynard had, in fact, died by her own hand on the first of November.
“We’re hoping to convince people to take a stand against the bill,” said Andrew Rivas, director of government and community relations for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, who was among the 300 gathered at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament June 23 to show their opposition to SB 128. “But we think they’re going to keep pushing,” he said, referring to Compassion & Choices.
“We think it’s important to keep up with the message that this bill is bad social policy,” Rivas said, suggesting that the bill would have a particularly drastic impact on the poor. “It sends the message that there’s a segment of our society that we refuse to invest in.”
In a June 16 letter to Assemblyman Rob Bonta, chairman of the of the health committee, Archbishop José H. Gomez stressed that the passage of the assisted-suicide measure would primarily hurt the most vulnerable Californians.
“SB 128 is pushing us into a quick-fix ‘solution’ that involves killing the people we find too difficult, too burdensome or too expensive to take care of,” he pointed out to the chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Health. “If we legalize this practice, the ones who will suffer will be our poor, elderly and handicapped neighbors, as well as those living in immigrant and minority communities.”
Archbishop Gomez added, “You and your colleagues in the California legislature have done a great deal to address racial and economic inequalities and disparities in our health system. I am afraid that legalizing physician-assisted suicide would reverse those noble efforts and result in new injustices.”
Learn more about SB 128 at ahardpill.org.
Read the entire text of the archbishop's letter to Assemblyman Bonta here.