Wednesday, August 19, 2015

California's Assisted Suicide Bill AB 15: Governor Brown Not Impressed; Bill Is A "New Number With the Same Song."

This article was published by Choice Is An Illusion on August 19, 2015

Margaret Dore
By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA

Yesterday, the deceptively named Compassion & Choices unveiled its "new" deceptively named End of Life Option Act to great fanfare in a press credentialed only press conference.

Governor Jerry Brown has already weighed in that the present special session "is not the appropriate venue to consider the issue."

The new bill, AB 15, is in substance an old bill (SB 128) that was unable to make it out of committee.

AB 15 has some new provisions and puts some of the old bill's provisions in a different order. AB 15 is in substance the same bill as the old bill. Key points include:

  • AB 15 applies to patients with a "terminal disease." In Oregon, which has a similar law, such persons include young adults with chronic conditions such as insulin dependent diabetes and chronic lower respiratory disease. People living with HIV/AIDS, who are dependent on their medication to live, also qualify as "terminal." Such persons can have years, even decades, to live. 
  • Once a person is "labeled 'terminal,' an easy justification can be made that his or her treatment or coverage should be denied in favor of someone more deserving."[1] In Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, patients are not only denied coverage for treatment, they are offered assisted suicide instead.[2] Well known cases are Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup.[3]
  • The bill remains a recipe for elder abuse in which the patient's heir, who will financially benefit from his or her death, is allowed to actively participate in signing the patient up for the lethal dose. This fact alone does not meet the "stink test." 
  • Once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy, there is no oversight. Not even a witness is required at the death. If the patient struggled, who would know?
  • The death certificate is required to be falsified to reflect a natural death. The significance is a lack of transparency and an inability to prosecute for murder even in a case of outright murder for the money.
AB 15 is but a new number with the same song. Don't be fooled.

To view a detailed legal/policy analysis of AB 15, please click on the following links: Executive summary and index; Memo; and Appendix/Attachments.

  1. Opinion Letter by Richard Wonderly MD and Attorney Theresa Schrempp, available at
  2. Id.
  3. Id.

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