California Lawmaker Withdraws Bill to Expand Assisted Suicide Law

SB 1196 would have remove the terminal illness requirement and allow anyone—including non-residents—to use intravenous drugs to end their lives.
California Lawmaker Withdraws Bill to Expand Assisted Suicide Law
A doctor checks on a 34-year-old COVID-19 patient at a medical center in Tarzana, Calif., on Sept. 2, 2021. (Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images)
Jill McLaughlin
Legislation that would have vastly expanded California’s assisted suicide law failed to gather enough support among legislators and was withdrawn April 18.

The bill would have catapulted the state’s current end-of-life law into the most expansive in the nation, allowing anyone—including non-residents—to request life-ending drugs if they suffered from a “grievous and irremediable medical condition.”

Current California law only allows patients to qualify if they have six months to live.

The bill’s author, Sen. Catherine Blakespear, withdrew the legislation “because it did not have any support in the Senate Health Committee, where it was scheduled to receive its first hearing,” spokesman Andrew LaMar told The Epoch Times Friday.

The senator hasn’t decided if she will pursue the measure again in the future, according to Mr. LaMar.

Senate Bill 1196 proposed changes to California’s existing End of Life Option Act to allow residents and nonresidents to end their lives in the state with a drug given intravenously for a range of conditions, including mental illness.

If passed, the legislation would have removed the terminal illness requirement and allowed anyone with a grievous and irremediable medical condition to participate.

It would have also allowed for intravenous infusion of life-ending drugs. Drugs must be taken orally by the patient now.

The senator said, in a statement, she received a flood of calls and emails in support of her bill from people who had loved ones desperate for the option to commit suicide in their final days, but were denied. She also heard stories from people who were recently diagnosed with terminal illnesses and who struggled to find providers to offer the option, she said.

Ms. Blakespear said she believes people should have the option to make decisions that “allow them to have the exit of their choosing, at a time, and in a manner that works best for them.”

“However, at this point, there is a reluctance from many around me to take up this discussion, and the future is unclear,” she said in the statement. “The topic, however, remains of great interest to me and to those who have supported this bill thus far.”

Several people and organizations opposed the bill, including Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman, who authored the original End of Life legislation in 2016.

“I do not support this expansion,” Ms. Eggman said in an April 11 post on X. “While I have compassion for those desiring further change, pushing for too much too soon puts [California and] the country at risk of losing the gains we have made for personal autonomy.”

The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund also opposed the legislation, saying it sent the wrong message about people with disabilities.

“These bills and laws communicate that an appropriate response to disability and disability-related needs is physician-assisted death,” the fund’s Executive Director Susan Henderson wrote in a letter April 15 to the Senate Judiciary Committee, another panel that had been set to consider it. “This bill is bad public policy and undermines our efforts to support people with disabilities.”
Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.