California assisted-death bill shelved for this year
SACRAMENTO – Lacking the votes to pass a key committee, a bill that would allow physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients in California was shelved Tuesday, likely until next year, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The End of Life Option Act had been approved last month by the state Senate, but on Tuesday it did not have enough support to get out of the 19-member Assembly Health Committee, supporters decided.
Democratic Sens. Lois Wolk of Davis and Bill Monning of Carmel, the bill’s authors, decided not to press for a vote as the deadline looms for approving bills this year, according to Assembly committee officials. They likely will seek to bring it up next year so they can have time to talk to reluctant Assembly members and try to address their concerns.
“We have chosen not to present SB 128, the End of Life Option Act, today in the Assembly Health Committee,” the senators said in a statement. “We continue to work with Assembly members to ensure they are comfortable with the bill.”
The lawmakers noted that polls show most Californians support the bill. The statement does not address the timing of a vote. It could theoretically be taken up in August, but committee officials and others say it is unlikely to be heard this year.
“For dying Californians, like Jennifer Glass, who was scheduled to testify today, this issue is urgent,” the bill authors said. “It is urgent for Christy O’Donnell, for Michael Saum and hundreds of other Californians. We remain committed to passing the End of Life Option Act for all Californians who want and need the option of medical aid in dying.”
A group of Democratic Assembly members, many representing Latino districts, had withheld support after heavy lobbying from the Roman Catholic Church.
Committee members who withheld their support for the bill include Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego).