Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) activity in California
Opposition to Bill AB 374
"California Compassionate Choices Act:"
Opposition to bill AB 374:
||Frank Russo reported on two persons who opposed the bill before the Assembly Judiciary Committee:|
||A Roman Catholic priest who testified against the bill, said that those
who support the bill would go to Hell.
||"Conservative Republican Assemblyman Anthony Adams saw it as a
preservation of life issue and one that he had a duty to impose his belief
on others. He stated, 'You better darn well believe I want to impose my
morality on these people'." 1
||An alliance, Californians Against Assisted Suicide (CAAS) is opposed to the
bill. It includes the California Catholic Conference, the Alliance for Catholic
Healthcare, and some physicians' groups, hospice workers, disability rights
groups, advocates for low-income workers, Latino civil rights organizations and
CAAS states that:
"As Catholics we oppose euthanasia or assisted suicide because we
believe that human life is a gift from God, that we are stewards—not
owners—of that life, that we are made in God's image and that human life
is sacred from conception to natural death. This, of course, informs and
underlies our policy perspectives."
The implication is that, although this theological belief is not shared
by other faith groups, that the Church will attempt to force all California
residents to follow its teaching.
CAAS has other objections to PAS are:
||The replacement of references to assisted suicide with "aid in dying"
and "death with dignity."
||"Legalizing assisted suicide could seriously damage the relationship
between patients and healthcare workers." They do not specify why or how
this would happen.
||Persons with newly diagnosed disabilities or chronic diseases may
initially feel depressed and want to commit suicide. This bill would
facilitate assisted suicide. The CAAS seems to overlook the fact that
assisted suicide is only available to patients will a life expectancy less
than three months.
||Health insurers, family members, potential heirs might try to influence
patients to commit suicide.
||Most patients who have requested assisted suicide in Oregon were not
suffering from intractable pain; they typically suffered from loss of
autonomy and loss of dignity. 2
||The International Task Force
on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (ITFEAS) also opposes the bill. Their
objections to AB 374 are:|
||Patients are given the option to not inform their
families of their decision.
||Doctors working for the government, managed care
programs and HMOs could approve prescriptions to aid in dying.
||Physicians would be able to suggest suicide to their
patients as an option.
||Physicians could approve prescriptions for patients
suffering from depression or other psychological disorder as long as the
patient's judgment is not impaired.
||Patients would be given the freedom of receiving the
medication by mail.
||Patients would be given the freedom of making oral
requests by phone and/or submitting the written and witnessed request by
||A patient could obtain medication for aid in dying,
subsequently become incompetent, and then take the medication while in that
||Doctors would not be penalized if they did not report
a patient's suicide.
||State agencies are required to refer to PAS as "aid in dying."
||Patients would have the freedom to terminate their life in order to
avoid being a burden to their families.
||To many Californians who are poor or without health insurance have no
access to proper medical care and pain management. Aid in dying will be the
only way to end the intractable pain. 3
||Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families,
a pro-family organization, said:|
"Doctors must be healers, not killers. Depressed patients need love,
family, spiritual counsel, and proven pain medication, not handed what
amounts to a gun to the head. AB 374 must not become law. Because HMOs
(Health Maintenance Organization--restricted health insurance) are the
controlling force for so many physicians, it's inevitable that hospitals
and hospices would soon view patients as more expensive alive than dead.
"The compassionate answer for terminal patients is effective pain
management, not suicide. God created us, and no innocent human being
between womb and tomb deserves to be murdered, no matter what it's
called. Legalizing so-called 'voluntary' suicide today will lead to
involuntary suicide tomorrow, as demonstrated by the ongoing Netherlands
"What a horrifying nightmare to hear a nurse come up to you and say
'the doctor will kill you now.' Governor Schwarzenegger shouldn't allow
himself or anyone else to play God. He should pledge to veto this ‘Dr.
Death’ bill without delay." 4
Thomasson appears to misunderstand the scope of
this bill. No doctor is going to kill a patient. The most a doctor will be
able to do is to prescribe fatal medication that the patient has repeatedly
asked for. It is the patient who decides when or if to take the pills and be
delivered from intractable pain.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Frank D. Russo, "California Compassionate Choices Act, AB 374, Passed by
Assembly Judiciary Committee," California Progress Report, 2007-MAR-28, at:
"Assisted Suicide," Californians Against Assisted Suicide - E-Newsletter,
" 'Compassionate Choices Act' AB 374, ITFEAS, at:
Gudrun Schultz, "Physician-Assisted Suicide Bill Approved by California
Judiciary Committee," Life Site News, 2007-MAR-28, at:
Copyright © 2007 by Ontario Consultants on
First posted: 2007-JUN-02
Last updated 2007-JUN-02
Author: Bruce A Robinson