With California’s controversial assisted death proposal currently stalled in the Assembly Health Committee, proponents brought in a big name this week to help drum up support.
Civil rights activist Dolores Huerta was at the Capitol on Thursday lobbying members to vote for Senate Bill 128, which would allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients.
“This is an important measure that really gives families and individuals the right to make that choice if they want to end their lives with dignity when they know that otherwise it would be very torturous and terrible thing for them to go through,” she said. “This is a responsibility of the Legislature in a democratic process to give people that right.”
Huerta used her visit to speak with members of California Legislative Latino Caucus, who make up about a third of the health committee.
“I know it’s a difficult decision for some people,” Huerta said, “but again, when people are elected to office, they are not here to vote their personal decisions, their personal belief. They are here to serve their constituents.”
While SB 128 passed the Senate earlier this month, it has been deeply personal choice for many lawmakers. Catholic and disability rights groups remain vocally opposed.
Assemblyman Luis Alejo, a Watsonville Democrat who is a principal co-author on the bill, said some of his fellow Latino Caucus members are still wavering on the bill, but he has has not “heard any compelling reasons” for their indecision. He hoped that Huerta, an icon in the Latino community who rose to fame organizing farm workers, would change minds.
“Her weighing in on this one could help members rethink some of their positions,” he said. “If there's other voices they're not listening to, Dolores Huerta is one that they will hear out.”