A bill that could make California the second state in the nation to legalize physician-assisted suicide is currently heading through the legislature.
Should the "California Compassionate Choices Act" (AB 374) pass into law, it would allow doctors to euthanize patients that are terminally-ill. The bill is still in its early stages and has currently been approved by the Assembly's Judiciary Committee. It will next be considered by the Appropriations Committee.
Several Christian voices are worried about the proposition, explaining that life is too valuable to make judgment calls on and should be preserved.
"Every year the California Legislature gets a little wackier, but this year the implications are especially sobering," commented Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), in a statement. PJI is a legal defense that focuses on religious freedoms.
"The last thing government needs to do is encourage suicide," Dacus added. "We urge Californians who value life to contact their legislators and urge opposition to AB 374."
The same type of bill has been introduced to the legislature in years before, but had not passed as law. Many are worried that it may have more strength this year, however, since one of the individuals who introduced the bill is Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles), the Speaker of the Assembly.
The other legislators who initiated AB 374 include assembly members Patty Berg (D-Eureka) and Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys).
There are also religious groups, surprisingly, that are strongly in favor of the proposal, arguing that life is important but there are extraordinary circumstances where mercy killing is justified.
"People of different faiths and beliefs agree that life is sacred and should be respected and preserved as long as humanly possible," explained the Rev. Dr. Ignacio Castuera of the Los Angeles-based Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels earlier this month. "However, when death is imminent, it is entirely respectful to the sanctity of life to allow a person to decide for himself or herself when and how they can ease their pain and suffering in a dignified manner."
AB 374 has been largely been modeled after the law in Oregon – the only state in the nation currently that allows physician-assisted suicide.
Several law firms opposing the bill have promised to follow its progress, so that they can keep those against it informed as well as "testify as to the legal implications of these measures," according to PJI.
"Government should be protecting the most vulnerable members of society, not promoting their destruction," concluded Karen England, executive director of the California pro-family grassroots advocacy group Capitol Resource Institute, in a statement. "It's a sad day when legislators are more concerned about protecting animals than human life."