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Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) activity in California

Support for Bill AB 374
"California Compassionate Choices Act:"

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Support for bill AB 374 "California Compassionate Choices Act:"

Bill AB 374 was introduced to the California legislature on 2007-FEB-15 in order to legalize Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) in the state. It is similar to AB 654 and AB 651 that failed to proceed during 2005 and 2006.

bullet Assembly member Patty Berg delivered an opening statement when the bill was considered by the Assembly Judiciary Committee:
"This bill deals with a deeply personal choice available only to people who are dying of a terminal illness. it allows them to consider an option that a huge majority of Californians say they would like to have."

"But, much more than the specifics of the options, AB374 is about our fundamental right to privacy -- a civil right that is expressed as a freedom to choose. It is about the freedom of the individual to make choices and the freedom for your choices to be different from my choices."

"The question before you today is not whether you approve of a terminally ill patient hastening his or her death. It is about whether you will uphold our right to privacy, and whether you believe in the right of the individual to choose."

" as soon as we allow the fears of one group or the religious beliefs of another to constrain this particular right, we will find that other rights ultimately are in the crosshairs."

"What the opposition wants is not protection, but really to issue an ultimatum that imposes their personal and religious beliefs on all of California. And if we can learn anything from history it is that we are imperiled when freedom is constrained, not when it is advanced." 1

bullet Rita Castellano, a terminally ill patient stated:

"I'm 73 years old and I live in Santa Rosa. I am a retired anthropology instructor. During my 37 years at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, I taught social change and comparative religions."

"Today I have a different type of cancer in each breast. The lobular cancer has spread throughout my body. This is stage 4 the final stage."

"I want the right to ask my doctor to ease the last weeks or days of my life with effective medication. It is intolerable that a few legislators impose a narrow view of morality on those of us dying with terminal diseases. How can lawmakers follow the dictates of the Catholic Church rather than legislate on behalf of ALL Californians? Am I to have a torturous death because detractors of aid in dying use labels such as 'suicide'? I enjoy my life, but I want to know that when my disease is ending it within days. I can die a peaceful death and die with dignity. I would hate to be put in the position of having to use violent or illegal means."

"I am here today to plead with legislators to adopt an effective aid in dying law. I need your support and that of the medical profession. My dying request is please pass AB 374. Thank you." 2

bullet Physicians for Compassionate Choices has stated:

"Caring for dying patients includes the sacred duty to listen to their fears, communicate their options, and honor their choices for end of life care." 3

bullet Compassion & Choices and End-of-Life Choices California have the following statement of principles:

"We support laws that ensure that in the event of a terminal illness, our families, our health care providers, and our own deeply held beliefs will determine our end-of-life choices."

"We support laws that preserve our dignity when we have reached the end of life by empowering us to direct our own end-of-life care."

"We believe every American should execute advance directives to guarantee control of health care decisions at the end of life."

They are supported by Equality California, the American Civil Liberties Union, California Association of Physician Groups, National Association of Social Workers, Older Women's League, California Commission on Aging, National Organization for Women California, CDCBA,, Drug Policy Alliance, California Democratic Party, the California Alliance for Customer Protection, and individual doctors, nurses, clergy, lawyers etc. 4

bullet Dr. Jay Cohen of the California Association of Physician Groups (CAPG), said:

"Our patients look to us for support and guidance. As has been shown in Oregon, which has a similar law, AB 374 will actually strengthen the bond between patients and their physicians and will improve all end-of-life options including hospice and proper pain management." 4

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Frank D. Russo, "California Compassionate Choices Act, AB 374, Passed by Assembly Judiciary Committee," California Progress Report, 2007-MAR-28, at:
  2. "Statement of terminal patient Rita Castellano," Californians for Compassionate Choices, 2007-MAY-09, at:
  3. "Our Coalition," Compassionate Choices, at:
  4. "Assembly Judiciary Committee Votes in Favor of AB 374," Compassion & Choices, 2007-MAR-27, at:

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Copyright 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2007-JUN-02
Last updated 200
Author: Bruce A Robinson

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