.- A pending bill in the California state legislature could force Catholic doctors and others opposed to assisted suicide to inform terminally ill patients of several facts, including that they have the âright of refusal or withdrawal from life-sustaining treatment.â
The billâs official title is the âCalifornia Right to Know End-of-Life Act of 2008,â though the Sacramento Bee has characterized it as âright-to-die legislation.â
Assembly Bill 2747 is an amended version of a euthanasia bill previously proposed By Assemblywoman Patty Berg, a Democrat from Eureka, the California Catholic Daily reports.
Opponents called the first version a âstealth assisted-suicide bill.â It would have allowed doctors to administer âpalliative sedationâ to induce a coma and to starve patients to death under a provision called âvoluntary stopping of eating and drinking.â
The original bill also required terminally ill patients to be referred to the group âCompassion & Choices,â a euthanasia advocacy organization formerly called the Hemlock Society.
Though Catholic ethics allow the refusal or withdrawal of medical treatment in some situations, the California Catholic Conference (CCC) says the amended version of the bill is âstill unnecessary and possibly dangerous,â calling the new version âless egregiousâ than its predecessor.
Republican State Sen. Sam Aanestad told the Sacramento Bee that some doctors who treat cancer patients oppose the bill because they believe it interferes with medical care at a time when patients need compassion.
âWhat they don't need is another governmental intrusion into the relationship between themselves and their doctor,â he said.
Aanestad also argued that requiring doctors to recite âa laundry list developed by Sacramento politiciansâ years before any refusal of treatment is necessary could encourage depressed patients to make rash decisions to hasten their deaths.
Democratic Sen. Sheila Kuehl told the Sacramento Bee that patients diagnosed with terminal illnesses have the right to have their questions answered.
âRight now, all too often, your questions are brushed aside,â she said.
The bill was approved by the state Senate on August 20 by a vote of 21 to 17. The assembly was expected to approve the bill and send it to the governor this week.