In a victory for the No On SB 128/Californians Against Assisted Suicide coalition, Senate Bill 128, which if passed would have legalized physician-assisted suicide in the state of California, has been pulled from the agenda of the Assembly Health Committee for the second time due to broad opposition. The bill will not be considered again in 2015. The announcement was made this morning.
Marilyn Golden, No On SB 128 co-chair and senior policy analyst for the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, said in a statement: “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.”
Physician-assisted suicide, legal in just three states (Oregon, Washington and Vermont), has been introduced into legislation but defeated in Connecticut, Maryland, Colorado, Maine, Delaware and Nevada and is currently stalled in New York and New Jersey.
Coalition coordinator Tim Rosales said, “Throughout the country we have seen assisted suicide proposals begin with very high approval ratings only to go down to defeat. In 2012, the Massachusetts Ballot Question 2 voter initiative began with nearly 70% approval in many public opinion polls, only to go down to defeat 51% to 49%…The more people learn about the issue, the more public opinion turns against it.”
In a statement issued today by Edward Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, Dolesji said: “We are very pleased at the outcome and grateful for the hard work done by the assembled coalition at Californians Against Assisted Suicide. The physicians, health care workers, disabled advocates, religious groups and others who came together to oppose the bill was key to the success of the campaign and we are proud to have played a role in that long-standing coalition.”
Golden added, “Those of us advocating on behalf of disability rights organizations understand that choice is a myth in the context of our health care reality. End-of-life treatment options are already limited for millions of people—constrained by poverty, disability discrimination, and other obstacles. Adding this so-called ‘choice’ into our dysfunctional health care system will push people into cheaper lethal options. There is no assurance everyone will be able to choose treatment over suicide; no material assistance for families of limited means who are struggling to care for loved ones; no meaningful protection from abusive family members or caregivers.”
In the State Senate, SB 128 passed by a floor vote of 23-15. Democrat Senator Tony Mendoza voted in opposition with Sen. Ben Hueso (D) abstaining and Sen. Richard Pan (D) abstaining in both the Senate Health Committee and floor votes. All Republicans voted no.