California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 380 (SB380) into law recently, which streamlines the process for terminally ill patients to kill themselves using drugs prescribed by medical doctors. Suicide is morally troubling to begin with, but the drive to make it not only legal, but easy to commit, is disturbing on many levels.
In the handful of states where it is legal, assisted suicide is permitted for mentally competent, but terminally ill people, with six months or less to live. In California, a law passed in 2015 has required two diagnoses by different doctors of the terminal illness, 15 days apart. The 15-day waiting period is a built-in safeguard to prevent patients from making ill-considered decisions based either on the pain they might be experiencing, or other factors driving their decision.
SB380 amends California law in significant ways. According to the California Family Council, an ally of Focus on the Family, the new law:
- Changes the sunset date from 2025 to 2031 after only four years of published annual reports by the California Department of Public Health. The sunset date was put in the original bill to allow the legislature to reevaluate the law’s impact using a decade of data.
- Patients will no longer have to make two oral requests for suicide drugs with a 15-day waiting period between requests. SB380 reduces the waiting period to 48 hours.
So, what prompted the legislature to amend the statute to make it easier to kill yourself?
According to KPIX, a San Francisco television station, a 2018 study by Kaiser Permanente Southern California found that roughly one-third of nearly 400 terminally ill people who requested assisted suicide medication died during the 15-day waiting period.
Apparently, death by natural causes is unacceptable to proponents of assisted suicide.
Kim Callinan is the President and CEO of Compassion and Choices Action Network, formerly called the Hemlock Society. She applauded the new law for making it easier and faster to commit suicide.
“We cannot thank Gov. Gavin Newsom enough for his support of this compassionate act,” Callinan told KPIX. “With his signature, eligible terminally ill adults will soon be able to more easily access the End of Life Option Act without needless suffering and unnecessary roadblocks.”
But where do the suicide advocates stop? The slippery slope we are on is clearly revealed with SB380’s near-elimination of the law’s most significant guardrail – time. Do advocates even want a 48-hour waiting period? Or should you be able to decide when you want to die and immediately drive over to Walgreens for the pre-packaged death-by-drugs formula? Are we being gradually desensitized to the shocking reality that legalized suicide poses?
Besides the moral component of suicide – that every life is sacred and only God has the right to decide when our lives are over – there are numerous other considerations that argue against it. There’s nothing immoral about refusing treatments that artificially keep you alive. But using doctors and drugs to end your life prematurely crosses a bright ethical and moral line.
Focus on the Family stands firmly against assisted suicide and has many valuable resources available for those wanting to understand this issue better.
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