The Life Legal Defense Foundation is calling on Governor Jerry Brown to veto a controversial new legislation that would allow doctors in California to prescribe lethal prescriptions to terminal patients hoping to hasten their death.
As reported by the Gospel Herald, Assembly Bill ABX2-15, the "End of Life Option Act," passed 10-2 in an Assembly special session committee on health in September.
Formerly known as SB128, the bill was pulled from consideration in the legislature's regular session in July but was reintroduced last month as part of a special session on healthcare called by Gov. Brown.
The move allowed ABX2-15 to bypass the Assembly's regular session health committee and go to a smaller special session committee on health that does not include several of the Democrats who had opposed the bill.
The Life Legal Defense Foundation, which identifies itself as an "organization composed of attorneys and other concerned citizens committed to giving helpless and innocent human beings of any age, and their advocates, a trained and committed voice in the courtrooms of our nation," argues that supporters of the bill exploited the special session to "advance their agenda behind closed doors."
"We expect our state legislators to uphold the State Constitution and not bend the law to further their own ends," Life Legal Executive Director Alexandra Snyder said in a press release. "Californians have a right to an open, deliberative, and transparent legislative process when it comes to law and policy changes that are literally a matter of life and death."
The group notes that Gov. Brown himself "has stated that the extraordinary session was not the proper vehicle for AB2X-15 and has recommended that the bill be taken up during the next session."
Thus, they argue that the Legislature acted outside the permissible scope of its authority in passing AB2X-15.
"Physician-assisted suicide was not the subject of the extraordinary session and should never be considered a means to stabilize funding for Medi-Cal and reduce the cost of health care," the group concludes.
Currently, the right-to-die practice for terminally ill patients is legal in five states, including Oregon, where assisted suicide advocate Brittany Maynard famously ended her life at the age of 29.
The bill has been met with strong opposition from many pro-life and religious leaders, including Rick Warren, prominent author and Pastor of Saddleback Church.
Speaking at conference in April, Warren explained that he opposes the bill not only as a theologian, but also as a father of a son who took his own life after battling mental illness.
"I oppose this law as a theologian and as the father of a son who took his life after struggling with mental illness for 27 years," Warren said, referring to his son, Matthew, who took committed suicide in 2013 after struggling with depression for many years.
"The prospect of dying can be frightening," he added. "But we belong to God, and death and life are in God's hands. ... We need to make a radical commitment to be there for those who are dying in our lives."
In September a coalition of several pro-life groups, including the Organization for Justice & Equality, Chinese Christians Union of San Francisco, California for Liberty and Patients Advocate, released a joint statement warning that the bill is a "license to kill and is pernicious to everybody."
The coalition also urged California citizens to call on Gov. Brown to veto the bill, arguing that doing so "is imperative since this bill puts all of us, especially seniors, handicapped people, and poor families, at risk of very dangerous and intolerable situations!"
The group added, "Suffice it to say, this is indeed a life-or-death situation for Californians! Similar bills have been blocked four times in California; we must stop their importunate demand determinedly."