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California lawmakers propose expanding assisted suicide

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(The Center Square) – California lawmakers are proposing expanding assisted suicide from only those with terminal disease to those with a “grievous and irremediable medical condition.”

This would include “series and incurable” illnesses that put individuals in “irreversible decline in capability” make it “reasonably foreseeable that the condition will become the individual’s natural cause of death.” It also expressly includes “mid-stage dementia” as a qualifying condition and would also expand assisted suicide to include administration not only by pills, but also by self-administration via intravenous suicide injections.

“Since becoming law in 2016, it has become clear two provisions [of the End of Life Option Act[ are needlessly excluding many Californians from accessing aid-in-dying medicine,” wrote State Sen. Catherine Blakespear, D-Encinitas, in a fact sheet. “First is the six month prognosis required to qualify as a terminal illness … The second issue with the EOLA is limiting how the aid-in-dying drug can be taken; specifically, it must be ingested … the aid-in-dying drug can cause painful burning of the esophagus or even vomiting, even if an antiemetic medication is taken first.”

In 2016, the first year of EOLA, 291 assisted suicide prescriptions were written, leading to 151 deaths. In 2022, 1,270 prescriptions led to 853 deaths.

With the proposed expansion from Blakespear, some say that the state is incrementally falling down a slippery slope and could soon follow the lead of Canada, where the government recently announced it would be expanding assisted suicide availability to anyone with a qualifying mental illness, including even substance abuse. Though Canada delayed this expansion, set to begin last month, until 2027, Canadian courts just days ago granted the right to assisted suicide to a young autistic woman in apparent good health.

“California is generally a cautionary tale for other states, but in this case we only have to look to the north to see how far a slippery slope can go. In Canada, assisted suicide for the terminally ill was just expanded to allow an autistic but healthy 27 year old woman to die,” said Republican Party of Los Angeles County spokesperson Roxanne Hoge in a statement. “Misguided Sacramento Democrats will not stop until assisted suicide is a universal right. They are, as usual, wrong.”

The bill is currently being sent to the Rules Committee, where legislators and staff will figure out which committees the bill must pass through before facing a full Senate vote.