Newsbreak

California governor signs assisted suicide into law

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In a heartbreaking final step, California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed an assisted suicide bill into law. California is now the fifth state to legalize this human rights violation. Reuters reports that there was “intense opposition [to the governor’s signing] from some religious and disability rights groups.”

While the law would charge anyone who “pressure[s] anyone into requesting or taking assisted suicide drugs” with a felony, this will fail to protect ill, disabled, or elderly people from being killed against their will.

Such a felony charge could only be brought with evidence, and since those who pressure or force people into taking assisted suicide drugs often – if not always – do it in private, the evidence will die with the violated person.

Though there are strongly-felt beliefs on both sides of the issue, it is clear that while no one wants to see a loved one suffer, it is extremely dangerous for society at large to step down the slippery slope. Assisted suicide opens the door for the rife abuse and neglect of the elderly, sick and disabled. Reuters reports:

[A]dvocates for people with disabilities… said unscrupulous caregivers or relatives could pressure vulnerable patients to take their own lives.

Opponents also said the bill would invite insurance companies to take advantage of poor patients by offering to pay for the cost of life-ending drugs but not for the expensive treatments that could save lives.

“There is a deadly mix when you combine our broken healthcare system with assisted suicide, which immediately becomes the cheapest treatment,” said Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst at the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund in Berkeley. “The so-called protections written into the bill really amount to very little.”

Sadly, while Governor Brown claimed to have consulted with a number of people before signing the bill, he made a decision focused on his own personal wishes. He explained:

In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death.

I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.

Such a view – understandable, as few welcome the idea of great suffering – ignores the terrible potential for abuse of the elderly, sick, and disabled and degrades the absolute value of human life.

Live Action President Lila Rose issued this statement in response to the passage of the bill.

“It breaks my heart that my home state of California is legalizing assisted suicide. Instead of focusing on end-of-life care and pain management, this law effectively tells sufferers and their families that it’s better off if they are dead. Besides their physical suffering, those with potentially terminal illnesses struggle emotionally and mentally, and many feel like burdens to family and friends. When we tell them that physician-assisted suicide is even an option, it becomes a subtle form of pressure.

“Additionally, terminal diagnoses are often wrong. Many of us have heard of someone who was diagnosed with sixth months to live who recovered and was living a full life five years later.

“If we as a society think that suicide is never the answer, how does allowing a physician to commit it make it any less wrong? Helping someone to commit suicide is neither loving nor merciful. The healthy should fight for the sick, not tell them that they will help kill them.”

If we believe that human life is infinitely valuable, even in the face of suffering, we cannot support California’s assisted suicide law.

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