April 8, 2024

California could liberalise conditions for assisted suicide 

California’s End of Life Option Act, which regulates assisted suicide, passed in 2015 and became operative on June 9, 2016. 

Like legislation in other states, California’s law specifies that patients must be terminally ill. It defines this state as “an incurable and irreversible disease that has been medically confirmed and will, within reasonable medical judgment, result in death within six months.” 

The law is too restrictive, say right-to-die activists. A state senator, Catherine Blakespear, has introduced a bill to make it easierfor Californians to access assisted suicide. SB 1196 will replace terminal illness with ““a grievous and irremediable medical condition.” 

In addition, the bill would: 

  • Expand the Act to those with early- to mid-stage dementia
  • Allow for aid-in-dying medicine to be received through an intravenous (IV) infusion that is self-administered by the patient
  • Remove the requirement to wait 48 hours in between oral requests
  • Remove the California residency requirement
  • Remove the 2031 sunset date 

Bioethics writer Wesley J. Smith was scathing in his criticism of the proposed changes, whose definitions, he wrote in the National Review, are “broad enough to drive a hearse through”. He concluded: 

SB 1196 demonstrates the mendacity routinely engaged in by the euthanasia movement. They promise limited access, only as a last resort. But they don’t mean it. These laws are continually expanded over time toward the final destination of death on demand as a human right and euthanasia normalized as the preferred — i.e. “dignified” — way to die.