California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
SACRAMENTO – California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has officially approved an assisted suicide measure allowing nurses to sedate, dehydrate and starve depressed or confused individuals they consider to be “terminally ill.”
The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Patty Berg, a Democrat, passed the California Assembly Aug. 28, and the state Senate Aug. 20. It was signed by the governor yesterday.
The legislation, called the “Terminal Patients’ Right to Know End of Life Options Act,” or AB 2747, passed by a 42 to 34 vote. An Aug. 20 Senate vote of 21 to 17 ushered the measure to the governor’s desk for signing.
Randy Thomasson, chief of the Campaign for Children and Families, said the legislation is dangerous and should have been vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger.
“AB 2747 pushes suicide through the back door at the hands of non-physicians taking advantage of depressed patients,” he said in a statement. “AB 2747 cheapens the value of human life by endorsing suicide as an option.”
The measure allows physician assistants and nurses to decide whether a person is “terminally ill” and deprive them of basic life-sustaining necessities such as food and water.
“Depressed patients who succumb to this pressure will be drugged unconscious and die from dehydration, usually within five to 10 days,” Thomasson said. “Nothing in the bill prohibits this horror.”
Thomasson said Berg “deceptively changed” the bill to appear that “voluntarily stopping of eating and drinking” and “palliative sedation” no longer were on a list of “symptom management” options.
“But the final bill “is broad enough to easily include these suicide techniques,” he said.
According to the CCF, Assemblyman Van Tran of Costa Mesa warned the bill has no protections for patients “who could be mistakenly diagnosed as ‘terminally ill’ but would have many, many full years of life ahead.”
“The bill does not otherwise attempt to expressly define terminal illness that each of these health care professionals would have to diagnose to trigger the offer of counseling end of life option,” Tran said. “It is not clear why nurse practitioners and physician assistants could make such a significant diagnosis. It is further not clear from the bill how making such significant diagnoses on a case-by-case basis can be done by such practitioners and assistants based on so-called ‘standardized procedures and protocols’ not further defined by the bill. The potential effect of AB 2747 is extremely broad and could cause irrevocable harm.”
As WND reported, state Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, urged Schwarzenegger to veto the bill as well.
He said the legislation was sponsored by a group called Compassion and Choices, which formerly was known as the Hemlock Society and has advocated for physician-assisted suicide legislation in the past. A founder of the group has praised Dr. Jack Kevorkian for helping more than 100 people die.
Dozens of individuals and groups representing cancer patients, minority rights groups, members of religious communities and hospitals spoke before the Senate Health Committee in opposition to the idea. Also, numerous hospitals and other organizations opposed the measure, includeing California Disability Alliance, California Family Council, California Nurses for Ethical Standards, Mercy San Juan Medical Center, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco.