California's assisted death bill stalls as LA archbishop warns lawmakers

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez says helping someone to die is still killing.Facebook

California's assisted death bill has been pulled out from a key committee after it apparently failed to gain enough support.

However, opponents of SB 128, or The End of Life Options Act, said this could be just "a brief respite" with the proponents of the bill renewing their push for the bill's approval by early next month, according to the Catholic News Agency.

"We know that the death promoters are committed to use every avenue they can, the media, the courts, the legislature," the group called Californians Against Assisted Suicide said. "They will be back."

Bill sponsor State Sen. Lois Wolk agreed to pull the bill from the Assembly Health Committee until July 7 to avoid a required vote on the bill. She vowed to convince more lawmakers to support the bill to ensure its passage, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The California Senate earlier approved the bill on a 23-15 vote last June 4. It is now being tackled in the State Assembly.

SB 128 will allow terminally ill patients who have six months or less to live to request a doctor's prescription for aid-in-dying drugs that they can administer to hasten their death.

It was modelled after an Oregon law that was approved in 1997.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez sent a letter to Health Committee Chair Rob Bonta last June 16 urging the committee to reject the bill.

He warned that SB 128 "has dangerous implications for our state, especially for the poor and the most vulnerable."

"This legislation is not worthy of our great State, which has done so much to promote human dignity and equality of access to health care," he said, adding that helping someone to die is still killing.

Gomez said the bill "is pushing us into a quick-fix 'solution' that involves killing the people we find too difficult, too burdensome or too expensive to take care of."

"If we legalise this practice, the ones who will suffer will be our poor, elderly and handicapped neighbours, as well as those living in immigrant and minority communities," he said.

He said in a for-profit health care system, the bill will not be a choice but the only option for minorities, the poor and those without health care.

"In a state like California, where we have millions without insurance, and millions more receiving government subsidised health care, the cost pressures to promote suicide over treatment will become even more urgent," he said.

Gomez noted that the suicide rate in Oregon has increased by nearly 50 percent since the doctor-assisted suicide law came into effect.