Assisted suicide bill should be vetoed

Everybody should urge Governor Brown to veto ABX2-15, “Physician Assisted Suicide.” It is the license to kill and pernicious to everybody, especially seniors, handicapped and poor families. Almost all medical groups, patients’ organizations and religious organizations are against this bill.

It will make it much easier for hospitals and insurance companies to demand patients to agree to be killed. Why have people been using much resource to push this bill through the years? There is major profit motive behind it. Hospitals, insurance companies and pension plans will be able to evade their responsibilities to us. Once we accept assisted suicide, eventually not only patients with terminal illness will be allowed or be told to have physician assisted suicide. A 24 year-old lady in the Netherlands, without serious illness, was allowed to be put to death in August!

ABX2-15 is modeled after the Oregon law, of which “terminal” patients include young adults with chronic conditions such as insulin-dependent diabetes and chronic lower respiratory disease. Such patients, with appropriate medical care, can live for years or even decades. It used to be that some patients with five-year life expectancy were not able to obtain insurance payments for medical treatment, but a pill to die. Does California want to follow the terrible footsteps of Oregon?

The California health care system already gives insurance companies, hospitals and doctors tremendous power over ordinary patients who do not even have adequate recourse in wrongful death cases. According to a health committee in California Assembly, ABX2-15 will give doctors even more power with “blanket immunity … even in instances where their actions are grossly negligent.”

American Medical Association, World Health Organization, American College of Physicians and the American Cancer Society all oppose ABX2-15. According to American Medical Association, this type of bill is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control and would pose serious societal risk.

Predicting life expectancy is not an exact science, and misdiagnosis often happens. With this bill, human errors can readily cost lives.

Scientific breakthroughs in medical treatment and medication continue to occur. Patients should not give up easily.

ABX2-15 does not provide an adequate cool-off period. Basically, only two oral notices 15 days apart and a written notice from the patient are needed. Only two doctors are needed to approve on assisted suicide and the two of them can belong to the same business entity. If the patient chooses to die, even immediate family members will not be notified.

Moreover, the heir of an elder can actively participate in signing him/her up for the lethal dose. Once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy, there is no oversight. Not even a witness is required when the lethal dose is administered. If the patient struggled, who would know?

This is indeed a life-or-death situation for Californians! Definitely urge the Governor to veto ABX2-15:

Frank Lee is president of the Organization for Justice and Equality.

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