California-based pro-family grassroots advocacy group Capitol Resource Institute on Thursday vows to continue their fight against Senate Bill 128 of the Physician Assisted Suicide Bill, which the California Senate passed 23/14.
In a statement, the group welcomed the "profound and passionate opposition" that was presented by "Senators who defend life at all stages, many sharing personal stories of having been given additional precious months and years with their loved ones that chose to live to the end of their natural lives in spite of terminal diagnosis."
The group added, "More importantly, those Senators spoke of their responsibility to protect and provide care for the citizens of this state, even in the event of costly and serious illness or injury. We appreciate Senators Anderson, Bates, Gaines, Huff, Moorlach, Morrell, Nguyen, Runner, Stone, and Vidak for presenting rational and intelligent debate in opposition to this bill that devalues life.
With the passing of the bill, the proposed legislation will now head to the assembly for ratification.
CRI has called on Californians to contact their Assembly members "to ask them to defend the people of this state who are most vulnerable and oppose this bill." The group is also asking for financial support to continue the fight against the bill.
If California approves the Physician Assisted Suicide Bill, also known as, The Right-to-Die Bill, into a law, it would join other states that allow the practice, including Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana and New Mexico, reported Reuters.
The proposed bill in California was patterned after an Oregon law that allows adults suffering from incurable and irreversible illnesses, and was diagnosed by a competent physician they have only six months to live, to obtain medication they could administer themselves to terminate their lives.
The law also requires the signature of at least two physicians confirming that a patient only has six months or less to live and that the patient is mentally competent to make the said decision.
Sen. Bill Monning, D-Monterey, who co-sponsored the bill described the proposed legislations protecting the "fundamental human right" that allows a person to determine his or her death on his own terms, according to Mercury News.
Monning said, "We count today's vote as a historic step forward. We hear a lot of different tough issues being debated, but I can't remember an issue that commanded greater attention. It was a pretty powerful engagement marked by respect and civility."
He continued, "Californians with terminal diseases should have the autonomy to approach death on their own terms, and I look forward to continuing this policy discussion in the Assembly."
But critics to the bill said it encourages terminally-ill patients to commit assisted suicide even in cases where their insurers deny or delay the coverage for their costly-life sustaining medication.
Thirty-two -year-old Stephanie Packer, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness, sent a statement to Californians Against Assisted Suicide and said, "Unfortunately this vote sends a message to people like me that suicide is a preferred option. I have a great family and strong community support, but I can't imagine how people facing a life-limiting diagnosis will hear this message from the State Senate."
In May, the California Medical Association retreated from its 30-year opposition to physician-assisted bill and instead changed its position neutral to the proposed legislation that weakened the challenge to the bill.
Similar bills have already been defeated or tabled this year in states like Connecticut, Delaware and Colorado. New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan (D) vetoed a bill Tuesday for an assisted suicide study committee on the issue, writing that she believed "... the goals of this bill begin to take New Hampshire down a precarious path." The New Jersey State Assembly moved a bill on assisted suicide last year to the State Senate; that bill has also received significant opposition and has drawn concerns from Governor Christie.
The CAAS said in a statement, "This bill is simply about protecting doctors and HMOs from liability and tells people with disabilities who face a terminal diagnosis, that may well prove inaccurate, that there is no dignity in our lives. Assisted suicide is dangerous and we are going to bring that message loud and clear to every member of the State Assembly and the Governor."
Senate Bill 128 remains opposed by a broad group of organizations including the Association of Northern California Oncologists, Disability Rights California, the California Foundation for Independent Living, the Medical Oncology Association of Southern California, the Alliance of Catholic Healthcare, the California Disability Alliance, The Arc of California and dozens of others.