Palliative care is still "underrepresented in the practice of medicine right now," Donovan said, yet "with additional funding" it could become more commonplace.
"Will palliative care be made more accessible when physician-assisted suicide is a legal option? Those who provide funding for health care know that death is always cost-effective," he cautioned.
In California, Catholic opponents of assisted suicide were "told repeatedly by legislators" that "this will never be a publicly-funded benefit," said Kathleen Buckley Domingo, associate director of life ministry for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Yet $2 million was set aside for these drugs by the state of California while 13 million people on the state's Medicare fund are not covered for palliative care, she noted.
"Especially in our immigrant communities…especially in our poor inner city communities, there's a huge disparity in the kind of health care that people are receiving," she said. "They're on MediCal, and this is now the cheapest and easiest option."
The drugs are cheap and also easily available, she said, noting that they can be shipped directly to people's homes.
One woman, Stephanie Packer in Orange, Calif., reported being denied chemotherapy treatment by her insurer while being offered cheap coverage for a lethal prescription, in a documentary produced by the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network.
The elderly sick are also vulnerable to such laws because they may be told by their families that they are a "burden" on others or they may simply feel that way.
In fact, in 2014 the State of Washington reported that of those who died in the state's Death With Dignity program, almost 60 percent said they were concerned about being a "burden on family, friends/caregivers."
"We have privileged assisted suicide over good medical care," Donovan said, so much so that in California, by law if a hospitalized psychiatric patient has a terminal medical diagnosis, they "have to be released" if they request a lethal prescription.
"This is somebody who isn't entitled to make decisions for themselves. That's why they're in a psychiatric hospital," Donovan said.
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Ultimately, assisted suicide laws are not about empowerment but rather about special interests, the panel said.
Legalizing it "doesn't really give patients any new rights or protections," Donovan insisted, as suicide is currently "legal in all 50 states," but "it's just not legal to help someone or promote it." Rather, "it's a physician-protection law," he said.
The laws are supported by "very few people" who tend to be more well-educated and wealthier, but "those who are put at risk" are many, especially the elderly and those in lower-income brackets.
"I think those are usually called special interest bills," he said.
The bills are also based on a "false reasoning" of autonomy, he added.
"If these bills wanted to honor choice, free choice," he continued, "then how do we justify restricting this to people who are going to be dead in 6 months?" Why not those with nine or 12 month diagnoses, he asked, or the chronically ill or emotionally ill.