But there are no "quick fixes." It will take patience, hard study and deliberate choices.
Unfortunately, Assembly and Senate leaders rushed this bill through in three weeks during this "extraordinary" session. They held only two hearings and floor debates, and barely considered some of the deeper issues of end-of-life care.
To really address these issues, we need to study complicated questions surrounding treatment costs, especially the costs of cancer medications. We need to study insurance practices that effectively limit access to hospice care and restrict physicians' options in providing pain relief and palliative care.
We need to understand the limited health care options available for the poor, the elderly, minorities and the disabled. We need to consider the training and education we provide doctors in palliative care and geriatrics.
And we also need to understand the spiritual and psychological issues affecting those who are dying and the effects on their families and loved ones.
Our lawmakers have not even studied how doctor-assisted suicide is functioning in states and countries where it is legal.
There are well-substantiated reports of serious abuses and complications in Oregon, Washington, Quebec and Belgium, among other places.
Among the allegations are that patients are being coerced by physicians and by family members to "choose" suicide over continued treatment. Elsewhere, physicians are facing legal threats if they do not provide deadly prescriptions.
Again, the question: Is this the legacy we want for the future of California?
And if we open the door and allow doctors to help terminally ill patients kill themselves, how will we prevent others from demanding the same "rights"? Are we opening the door to state-sanctioned "death on demand" for anyone who wants it? This legislation - and the process by which it was passed - is not worthy of our great state.
So this week, let us pray for the great state of California. And I urge you to join me in asking Governor Brown to veto this legislation and to insist that our lawmakers begin an open and thoughtful study of how we live and die in California.
And may our Blessed Mother Mary, Seat of Wisdom and Health of the Sick, guide us in this important hour for our state and our nation.
Posted with permission from The Tidings, official publication of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.