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Home » Archives » Legislative Issues » California Legislative Issues Archive » California Bill Amended to Allow Assisted Suicide

California Bill Amended to Allow Assisted Suicide

June 21, 2005 – SACRAMENTO – California AB 651 was a popular bill to help the disadvantaged chronically ill people who suffered from diseases such as asthma and diabetes receive necessary Medi-Cal Benefits. It passed with broad bipartisan support. On May 31, 2005, the Assembly voted on the original provisions of AB 651 and sent the bill on its way to the senate.California AB 654 was a struggling assisted suicide bill. Only 20-25 were in favor of the bill which required 41 "yes" votes in order to pass.

On June 15, 2005, on its way to the Senate, using a parliamentary rules trick, the bill's authors "gutted" the wording of AB 651 and "amended" it with the assisted suicide language of AB 654. In other words, it was a classic example of bait and switch tactics.

In the language of the new AB 651 preamble, "This bill would enact the California Compassionate Choices Act, which would authorize an adult who meets certain qualifications, and who has been determined by his or her attending physician to be suffering from a terminal disease, as defined, to make a request for medication for the purpose of ending his or her life in a humane and dignified manner. The bill would establish procedures for making these requests."

The preamble further states, "The bill would require that nothing in its provisions be construed to authorize ending a patient's life by lethal injection, mercy killing, or active euthanasia, and would provide that action taken in accordance with the act shall not constitute suicide or homicide."

The distinction is that the law would no longer recognize provision of life-ending "medication" as a criminal act of suicide or homicide, and the procedure would be legalized. The part about legal injections, mercy killings, or active euthanasia not being authorized simply means that the patient would be the one to "pull the trigger" and they could not, in theory at least, be killed against their will.

A statement released by the Adventist Church in 1992 draws a sharp distinction between "foregoing medical interventions that only prolong suffering and postpones the moment of death" and "actions that have as their primary intention the direct taking of a life." Drawing on Biblical principles of the value of human life, the statement rejects euthanasia and affirms the Adventist Church's commitment to "revealing God's grace by minimizing suffering."

A terminally ill person is entitled to respect, compassion, and to every medical treatment available to alleviate pain and improve the quality of their existence. The dying individual ultimately has the choice to accept or reject treatments that merely extend life.

This is categorically and morally different from active euthanasia, or 'mercy-killings." In addition, doctor-assisted suicide is open to abuse, no matter how many precautions are in place.


At this time, AB 651 in its newly reconstituted form, is in the Senate Rules Committee awaiting assignment. The Republican senators have committed to a "no" vote on AB 651, so we are targetting Democrat Senators with phone calls, letters, and personal visits urging their "no" vote.

Please join us in actively advocating against AB 651. (To get your Senator's name and contact info, enter your zip code.) If your Senator is opposed to the bill, be sure to thank him or her.

For more information:

A Statement of Consensus on Care for the Dying – Official Seventh-day Adventist statement on Euthanasia- October 9, 1992.