Subverting the legislative process: How the Assisted Suicide Lobby circumvented the California Legislature, and the Consequences for the Entire Nation

By Dr Jacqueline Harvey

The media has branded ABX2-15, the bill that would legalize assisted suicide in California as Landmark legislation. Landmark legislation can serve as a catalyst for reform nationwide or it can becomes a cautionary tale. In the case of ABX2-15, my prediction is that it may be both, and the consequences will be catastrophic.

California is not the first state to legalize assisted suicide. What qualifies this bill as landmark is the influence California has on other states as a leader in policy innovation and in particular the underhanded strategy used to pass this bill.

If Governor Brown allows this tactic to prevail, California will be the first state to enable assisted suicide to pass the legislature without sufficient committee hearings, testimony and debate through misuse of a special session. Both this dangerous legislative precedent, and this dangerous legislation, is likely to spread.

If AB2X-15 is signed, this new strategy, to use the legislature against itself, would represent a significant shift in the suicide lobby’s already unethical tactics. Education on the ramifications of assisted suicide that occurs in the formal legislative process presents such an obstacle, that suicide lobbyists have changed their strategy and are now avoiding the legislature completely and they have sought the support of the uneducated voter through ballot initiatives or unethical judges who will legislate from the bench. Legislative hearings broadcast the very evidence that sabotages assisted suicide bills. The data is so damning that only one bill in over 175 has ever prevailed. Yet, for the first time, with ABX2-15, the suicide lobby did not have to circumvent the legislature to suppress education, just abuse it at a time when the process was relaxed to deal with different issues.

If signed, Governor Brown will not only be passing dangerous legislation that was not vetted, but worse, he will be validating a tactic which would encourage additional abuses of special sessions that yield more bad law. Any legislation that requires ignorance to pass is evidently flawed and the hallmark of a dangerous bill. It is not simply that legislation passed in haste and without proper scrutiny is cause for concern, although it is. The greater concern is how abusing the special session enables legislation that could not satisfy lawmakers even with ample time, debate and compromise. This would create a loophole for legislation so inherently problematic it has little hope to pass, unless it is done too quickly and superficially to truly consider the consequences.

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