California Right-to-Die Bill DOA in Assembly Committee

     SACRAMENTO (CN) – The authors of a proposed bill to allow terminally ill patients to end their lives with prescribed medication tabled the legislation Tuesday, just hours before a committee vote in the California state Assembly.
     The contentious bill, better known as the End of Life Option Act or Senate Bill 128, is done for the year after lawmakers removed it from the Assembly Health Committee agenda for the second time in two weeks.
     SB 128 would have allowed terminally ill patients to be prescribed lethal drugs by their physician.
     The assisted-suicide measure cleared the Senate last month by a 23-14 margin, but stalled before an initial hearing in the Assembly Health Committee due to opposition from lawmakers in Catholic precincts. Several Democrats spoke out against the bill prior to the hearing, raising doubt that the bill could pass the 19-member committee without full Democratic support.
     SB 128 did not receive a single Republican vote when it cleared the Senate in June.
     Opponents of the bill worked “tirelessly” to inform lawmakers about their concerns regarding assisted suicide, said Marilyn Golden, policy analyst for the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund.
     “What was seemingly inevitable just a month ago has seen increasing opposition due to a broad, bipartisan coalition that has worked tirelessly to inform California legislators about our policy concerns with assisted suicide,” Golden said in a statement.
     The bill was authored by Senators Lois Wolk, D-Martinez, and Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and was buoyed prior to the Senate vote by support from the California Medical Association.
     Monning described the bill as a “compassionate option” and a means for patients to have “death with dignity.” In a statement, he said that while the bill has been tabled for 2015 it has the support of Californians.
     “However, we are continuing to work with the committee members to ensure that when the bill is presented, they are comfortable with the measure,” Monning said. “Seven out of every 10 California voters want to see SB 128 become law and we remain committed to passing the End of Life Option Act for all Californians who want this option.”
     In order to receive the lethal drugs, patients would have been required to get two documented prognoses, execute written and oral requests for the medication at least 15 days apart and administer the dose themselves.
     Montana, Oregon, Washington and Vermont have laws or court rulings allowing doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients.
     Besides California, lawmakers in New Jersey and Colorado also dumped proposed assisted-death legislation in 2015.

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