This is the second time, the Church played a role in squashing this bill, last time in 2006, in a Senate Committee, when chair Joe Dunn, after a rambling speech about a talk with his Bishop cast the tie breaking vote against the bill. Interestingly enough, soon after this, Joe Dunn landed a plum position with the California Medical Association, another stanch opponent of the Bill. Ironically, the CMA has stayed neutral on this year's bill.
One of the "no" voters is a NARAL pro-choice champion Lorena Gonzales, from the 80th Assembly disrict. How does she square being pro-choice with her Church? But not helping terminally ill people have a voice in when and how to end their suffering? Others, see article below, identify as pro-choice and use that as a rationale for claiming the Church did not influence their decision.
I say Shame on you all, and shame on the Church.
In an e-mail to legislative offices, committee secretary Patty Rodgers wrote, “The authors will not pursue this bill this year – waiting on a statement from the authors explaining details and future plans.”
Senate Bill 128 would have allowed doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients. It passed the Senate last month, but stalled in the Assembly Health Committee two weeks ago over increasing objections from Latino Democrats.
Past attempts to legalize assisted death in California also collapsed, but SB 128’s champions believed that public sentiment had turned in their favor. They also surmounted a major political obstacle when the California Medical Association silenced its longstanding aversion to helping ailing patients die.
But the Catholic Church remained firmly opposed to the bill, arguing that it was an ethical violation. Proponents were not able to sway a majority of members on the Assembly Health Committee, some of whom pointed to personal experiences that counseled them against backing the bill.
“You’ve got to look at what I’ve done before the Legislature ... working to help save and protect peoples’ lives, giving that option – a second chance at life,” Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona, who worked as an emergency medical technician, said Monday. “Letting folks have that option to end their life, it’s just something I can’t come to grips with.”
Some members denied that religious objections were a decisive factor.
“There are times when I can be in clear policy opposition to the church – clearly with a pro-choice stand as a Democrat, I can say ‘no’ to the church,” Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, a practicing Catholic who once weighed entering the seminary, said on Monday. “It’s more of an internal struggle of how to look at the end of life more than any impact of religious or political” pressure.