Assisted suicide threatens the lives of people when they are at their most vulnerable.
Now that the California assisted suicide act (End of Life Option Act) has been struck down by the courts, we the undersigned urge California to protect its citizens from assisted suicide and provide proper care at the end of life rather than lethal drugs.
The California law applied to people with a "terminal disease" defined as having a medical prognosis of less than six months to live. Such persons can, in reality, have years to live, with the more obvious reasons being a misdiagnosis or the fact that predicting life expectancy is not an exact science. Doctors can sometimes be very wrong.
In Oregon, where the assisted suicide law uses a nearly identical definition of terminal disease, terminality is determined without treatment. Consider Oregon resident Jeanette Hall who was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 and wanted to have an assisted suicide. Her doctor convinced her to be treated instead. Twelve years later, she stated: "This last July it was 12 years since my diagnosis. If [my doctor] had believed in assisted suicide, I would be dead."
Patients are also at risk due to the lack of oversight at the death.
In 2011, the lack of oversight over administration of the lethal dose in Oregon prompted Montana State Senator Jeff Essmann to observe that studies claiming that Oregon's assisted suicide law is safe are invalid. During a legislative committee hearing, he stated:
"[All] the protections end after the prescription is written. [The proponents] admitted that the provisions in the Oregon law would permit one person to be alone in that room with the patient. And in that situation, there is no guarantee that that medication is self-administered. So frankly, any of the studies that come out of the state of Oregon's experience are invalid because no one who administers that drug...to that patient is going to be turning themselves in for the commission of a homicide."
The California law stated, "Actions taken in accordance with this [act] shall not, for any purposes, constitute suicide, assisted suicide, homicide or elder abuse under the law." In Washington State, similar language interpreted by the Department of Health, requires Medical Examiners, Coroners and Prosecuting Attorneys to certify a death as "natural" if Washington's assisted suicide law was used. If California follows this interpretation, no matter what the facts, even a "murder for the money" will be certified as natural if the California bill is used. The significance will be a lack of transparency and a legal inability to prosecute criminal behavior. This law created the opportunity for the perfect crime.
The AMA rejects assisted suicide and euthanasia stating that they are "fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks."
For all of these reasons and more, and based on the right to equal protection of human life under the law, we the undersigned reject the California assisted suicide law.