California lawmaker drops assisted suicide expansion after bipartisan outrage



(The Center Square) – California State Sen. Catherine Blakespear withdrew her bill to expand the state’s assisted suicide program after near-universal outrage, including opposition from the author of the bill that first authorized assisted suicide in the state.

“If people have an incurable illness or disease that is causing them great suffering and will in fact result in their natural death‚ I believe they should have the autonomy to make decisions that allow them to have the exit of their choosing‚ at a time‚ and in a manner‚ that works best for them,” said Blakespear on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “At this point, there is a reluctance from many around me to take up this discussion, and the future is unclear. The topic, however, remains of great interest to me and to those who have supported this bill thus far.”

The bill would have expanded the state’s assisted suicide laws to include “serious and incurable” illnesses that put individuals in “irreversible decline in capability” make it “reasonably foreseeable that the condition will become the individual’s natural cause of death.” The bill also would have added mid-stage dementia as a covered condition and would allow for administration not only by pills, but by self-administered suicide injections.

A broad coalition of groups and individuals emerged to oppose the expansion, including State Sen. Susan Eggman, who authored the bill first authorizing assisted suicide in the state in 2016.

“While I have compassion for those desiring further change, pushing for too much too soon puts CA & the country at risk of losing the gains we have made for personal autonomy,” Eggman said on X.

Republicans, meanwhile, pointed to Canada as evidence of a slippery slope. Canada recently delayed expanding its assisted suicide program to anyone with a mental illness to 2027 but just granted the right to assisted suicide to a young autistic woman in apparent good health.

“In Canada, assisted suicide for the terminally ill was just expanded to allow an autistic but healthy 27-year-old woman to die,” said Republican Party of Los Angeles County spokesperson Roxanne Hoge in a statement to The Center Square. “Misguided Sacramento Democrats will not stop until assisted suicide is a universal right.”

In 2016, the first year of EOLA, 291 assisted suicide prescriptions were written, leading to 151 deaths. In 2022, 1,270 prescriptions led to 853 deaths.

While California maintains low overall suicide rates compared to much of the country, its rural counties have suicide rates of up to triple that of coastal, urban counties. Nationally, suicide is highest for those 75 and older, with 44 suicides per 100,000 deaths in that demographic, and second-highest for those between 25 and 34, with 30.2 per 100,000.

Men are four times more likely than women to commit suicide.

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