This article was published on the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network (CBC) website
By Jennifer Lahl, CBC President - October 5, 2015.
It is with heavy hearts that we at the CBC report that Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law ABx2 15. California becomes the fifth state to allow physician assisted suicide after Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Vermont.
In his signing message to the California State Assembly, Governor Brown states that he weighed the arguments of those who support and those who oppose physician assisted suicide and concluded that he could not deny those dying and in “prolonged and excruciating pain” the right to end their lives.
CBC Board Member, Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, a psychiatrist at the University of California, Irvine, who has worked tirelessly to oppose AB x 2 15 said: Naturally, I’m very disappointed that Governor Brown signed into law today legislation that will permit doctor assisted suicide in California. His letter stating why he signed the bill indicated that he made his decision in the end based upon what he would want in the face of his own death, and suggesting that while he might not avail himself of this option he would want it available.
Among the many problems with this reasoning is this: Governor Brown is among the socially and economically privileged Californians who are least likely to be adversely impacted by this legislation—with access to the best healthcare and plenty of financial resources. But he has a responsibility not only for the impact of the legislation on him, or on those like him, but on all Californians. Those others who are economically and socially marginalized, who do not have access to even decent medical care, will be vulnerable to pressures to accept this cheap and expedient “option” for dealing with difficult, complex, and frequently expensive situations at the end of life. We have to look at the impact of this law not only for ourselves or for those close to us. We need to look at how it will impact the common good, on how it will affect healthcare institutions and the entire practice of medicine for patients at the end of life.