After falling short in the Assembly earlier this year, proponents of assisted death in California introduced a new legalization bill Tuesday, making pointed political and personal pleas for lawmakers to pass the proposal this month during the extraordinary legislative session on health care.
A dozen members of the Senate and Assembly appeared at a press conference urging their colleagues to support Assembly Bill X2-15, which would allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients, before advocates take the issue to the ballot next year.
Referencing several recent legal challenges for the right to die that were struck down in California courts, Sen. Lois Wolk, one of the measure’s co-authors, noted that the judges had determined the Capitol is “the place where these kinds of decisions need to be struggled with and addressed.”
“It’s time for the Legislature to act,” the Davis Democrat said.
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An earlier effort, Senate Bill 128, passed the upper house in June before being pulled from the Assembly Health Committee. The message on Tuesday seemed to be directly addressed toward the concerns of those wavering members: that legalizing assisted death might harm poor and minority Californians with limited access to other health care options, or that personal religious beliefs prevented them from voting for the legislation.
Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, argued that ABX2-15 would help “thousands in California that are suffering but don’t have the means nor the resources to pack up and move to another state” to take advantage of assisted death laws there. Famed activist Dolores Huerta said a majority of Latinos support the proposal, while Carlsbad’s the Rev. Madison Shockley made a biblical case for the right to die.
“I am proud to stand with...representatives of the entire diversity of the state of California,” Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, said. “We are white, we are black, we are Asian, we are Latina. We are gay, we are straight. We are young, we are older. And we all are standing for compassion and for choice.”
They were joined by Elizabeth Wallner, a Sacramento woman with stage four colon cancer, who tearfully asked for the option to end her life on her own terms.