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California Right-To-Die Bill Stalls

Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

A bill that would have allowed physician-assisted suicide in California has stalled in the state Legislature. The bill’s authors decided not to present it in an Assembly committee Tuesday.

The bill would have allowed doctors to prescribe life-ending medications to terminally ill patients. But its authors pulled the measure from the Assembly Health Committee agenda when they determined there weren't enough votes to pass it.

That was welcome news to a Roman Catholic Church group from Ceres, California, south of Modesto. The group broke into song after learning the bill had stalled. A representative of the Los Angeles Archdioceses thanked the largely Hispanic crowd for pressuring members of the Latino Caucus to oppose the legislation. Church member Erendira Tolentino says the state shouldn’t be making decisions about life or death.

"We believe that God has the control over our lives. That we can’t take nobody's life. It doesn’t matter if they’re disabled or they’re suffering," she says. "God has them there for a reason and they have to go through that."

But Tolentino says it was still important to protest the bill in case it’s brought up again.

And supporters say they will bring it back. Patricia González-Portillo is with Compassion and Choices.

"We’re working really hard," she says. "I mean dying Californians are pleading for these end-of-life options and we will work very hard to make that a reality.

Democratic Senators Lois Wolk and Bill Monning wrote the bill. In a statement they said they will continue to work to make sure Assembly members are comfortable with it. But given legislative deadlines, the measure is likely finished for the year.

Right-to-die advocates could not get support from Los Angeles-area Democrats, where the archdiocese actively opposed it.

Supporters hoped that changing public opinion and the California Medical Association's decision to drop its opposition would help the bill pass. Advocates have said they would try to take the issue to voters if the bill fails.

Doctors can prescribe life-ending drugs in four states. Efforts in other states to pass right-to-die legislation stalled this year.


The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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