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California drops assisted suicide waiting period to just 48 hours

assisted suicide

Assisted suicide advocates are celebrating in California after Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 380, which will “dramatically improve terminally ill Californians’ access” to physician-assisted suicide, according to the euphemistically-named euthanasia advocacy organization Compassion & Choices.

California originally legalized assisted suicide in 2015 by circumventing the normal legislative process. At that time, proponents dismissed critics’ concerns about the possibility of scheming family members or unscrupulous insurance carriers abusing the law, insisting that adequate safeguards were in place. Predictably, when given an inch, physician-assisted suicide advocates will quickly demand a mile, and California is no exception. Formally titled the “End of Life Option Act (EOLA)”, the original 2015 bill included two specific safeguards that have now been overturned by this latest legislation.

Firstly, the EOLA had an expiration date of 2025, and secondly, individuals seeking physician-assisted suicide had to submit requests a minimum of 15 days apart. But having subsequently deemed such safeguards ‘unnecessary,’ the new legislation now extends EOLA through 2031, and has drastically reduced the waiting period to just 48 hours. The new law is slated to take effect on January 1, 2022.

Also of interest is a change in the wording of the law pertaining to healthcare organizations that conscientiously object to providing or otherwise cooperating in physician-assisted suicide. The 2015 law essentially gave organizations the right to demand a ‘non-compete’ agreement from physicians or other healthcare staff. For example, a doctor employed by a Catholic hospital could not also prescribe assisted suicide drugs for a separate entity without violating the terms of employment with the Catholic hospital. But now, following the passage of SB 380, conscientiously objecting healthcare organizations can make no such demands of their staff regarding what they do outside working hours and off company premises.

READ: Bioethicist slams California for considering assisted suicide for those with dementia

There is reason for concern in California and everywhere that physician-assisted suicide is legal. A recent Los Angeles Times investigation suggests that California is first in the nation in hospice fraud; presumably vulnerable individuals would turn to physician-assisted suicide in larger numbers after failing to receive quality hospice or other palliative care.

A July 2021 op-ed penned for the California Globe by a California neurosurgeon noted:

End of Life Options Act collects minimal information, so we have no idea of success or abuse… Physicians may file incomplete or inaccurate forms, and whether an illness is terminal is not verified in any way, while other data like race and educational level are reported by [California Department of Public Health] but are not even submitted by physicians on the state forms… Yet physicians, witnesses, and others remain completely protected under the law, with no external oversight.

Other states have much more oversight and accountability.

Assisted suicide advocacy has exploded in the last few years internationally and in the States, and appears to only be gaining steam. On September 24, Live Action News noted that Queensland became the fifth Australian state to legalize assisted suicide. Four days prior, Live Action News covered the British Medical Association’s decision to adopt a ‘neutral’ rather than ‘opposed’ stance to assisted suicide. In addition, an editorial from National Review noted attempts by Hawaii’s Department of Health to loosen restrictions in the state.

Euthanasia advocates consistently cite the need for accessibility, sounding eerily similar to abortion advocates. As noted previously by Live Action News, assisted suicide advocates and abortion advocates are becoming increasingly cozy bedfellows. New York’s Planned Parenthood Action Fund specifically cited assisted suicide advocacy as a legislative priority in 2021. And in July, Compassion & Choices announced that Planned Parenthood of Illinois board member Jill Gordon was joining its board.

The connection between abortion and assisted suicide is morbidly logical, as both capitalize on and exploit vulnerable populations, offering death as a ‘solution’ to one’s problems, whether one is terminally ill or facing an unplanned pregnancy. The reasons people seek both sound similar — individuals seeking assisted suicide frequently cite “loss of autonomy” rather than fear of a painful death as their motivation, while women seeking abortion often fear the ways that having a baby would change their lives, allegedly threatening their own sense of autonomy.

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