Local » Uncategorized

Assisted-death bill passes state Senate committee


A controversial bill to bring physician-assisted death to California passed its first hurdle Wednesday after hundreds of people lined up to voice support and opposition to the legislation.

“We are pleased to see it pass,” said Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, one of the authors of SB128, which would allow a mentally competent terminally ill adult to receive a lethal prescription to hasten death.

The Senate Health Committee voted 6-2 along party lines to pass the legislation, with Sen. Richard Pan, a Democrat from Sacramento who is also a doctor, abstaining from the vote.

Prior to the hearing, the family of right-to-die advocate Brittany Maynard released video testimony in which she urged California lawmakers to allow terminal patients in the state to decide how and when they die.

Maynard, a Bay Area woman who moved to Oregon last year to take advantage of that state’s Death With Dignity law, recorded the video testimony 19 days before she died Nov. 1 in Portland after taking a deadly prescription.

Dr. Warren Fong, president of the Medical Oncology Association of Southern California, told lawmakers that the bill creates a slippery slope and that as a doctor, he sees assisted death as abandoning terminally ill patients, which he said would “defile” the profession.

Since Oregon enacted Death with Dignity in 1997, a total of 859 people died using the lethal drugs of the 1,327 prescriptions written.