For the fourth time in a row, the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide has been averted in the state of California. The California Catholic Conference, Catholic Healthcare West and a coalition of pro-life and disability rights groups under the umbrella of Californians Against Assisted Suicide worked overtime to stop the pro-euthanasia bill.
Here’s what happened. During the last week of May, the California Assembly had passed a bill (by just two votes) that mandated that medical professionals give a patient information about the option of terminal sedation if the patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness or has one year to live. Terminal sedation is the practice, rarely used and only when the patient is imminently dying, of sedating a patient to unconsciousness to relieve pain.
But there’s a problem with terminal sedation. If you terminally sedate a patient who isn’t dying, you end up terminating the patient by withholding food and fluids so the patient dies of starvation and dehydration instead of their illness.
The authors of the bill were the same California legislators who failed to get assisted suicide legalized in the past two legislative session. They turned to this ’stealth” initiative and promoted it as hospice care.
After receiving countless calls and e-mails from California citizens in opposition to the bill, the sinister parts of the bill were removed. Bill May of Catholics for Common Good said, “They removed starvation and dehydration as a medical option. They removed mention of rarely used palliative sedation that renders a patient unconscious.”
Congratulations to the coalition of organizations for this tremendous victory!