SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — The primary sponsors of legislation legalizing physician-assisted suicide pulled the bill hours before a state Assembly hearing July 7, with its authors saying the bill was dead for this year.
A group of Southern California Latino Democratic Assembly members broke ranks with their party to oppose the bill, a move assisted suicide advocates attributed to the intervention of the Catholic Church, specifically Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles created a website, ahardpill.org, with information and advocacy tools. The bill had already passed the state Senate, with votes largely along party lines.
“The compassion that doctor-assisted suicide offers is hollow. And this legislation has dangerous implications for our state, especially for the poor and vulnerable,” Archbishop Gomez wrote.
Effective lobbying by the coalition of all opponents was key, said Steve Pehanich, director of communication and advocacy for the California Catholic Conference, the bishops’ public policy arm.
The bill’s authors, Democratic Senators Lois Wolk of Davis and Bill Monning of Carmel, had already postponed a vote by the Assembly Health Committee in June, because they did not have sufficient support from Democrats on the committee.
“We are very pleased at the outcome and grateful for the hard work done by the assembled coalition at Californians Against Assisted Suicide,” said California Catholic Conference executive director Ned Dolejsi in a statement. He credited the bill’s withdrawal to the work of a long-standing coalition of physicians, health care workers, disability advocates and religious groups.
“Those of us advocating on behalf of disability rights organizations understand that choice is a myth in the context of our health care reality,” said Marilyn Golden, senior policy analyst for Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund.
San Francisco Chronicle columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross had attributed the bill’s dwindling prospects to lobbying by Catholics. The pair wrote July 5: “The lawmakers’ hesitancy comes as the Catholic Church in Los Angeles, which is home base for many of the Assembly members and strongly opposes the bill, is urging parishioners to call legislators and voice their objections.”
Three states have laws permitting physician-assisted suicide: Oregon and Washington, where it passed by voter initiatives, and Vermont, where the Legislature approved it. In 2015, assisted suicide bills were defeated in states including Connecticut, Maryland, Colorado, Maine, Delaware and Nevada. Similar legislation is currently stalled in New York and New Jersey. In California, a similar bill failed in 2007.
The primary advocacy organization, Compassion & Choices, is thought likely to fund an initiative to put physician-assisted suicide on the ballot in 2016, Pehanich said.
Schmalz is assistant editor of Catholic San Francisco, newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Foundation to award grants to Catholic schools, churches, charities
NEXT: Dominican-backed Hope House grows new life in a Detroit neighborhood
Share this story