March 22, 2016
California Senate Health Committee
Attention: Teri Boughton
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: SB 1002, The End of Life Option Act Dedicated Telephone Number
Dear Committee Members:
Not Dead Yet is a national disability rights organization with members in California. We are writing to oppose SB 1002.
A bill that creates a dedicated, state operated phone line about California’s assisted suicide law is an unnecessary expansion that effectively promotes its usage. The push to create this phone line only serves to emphasize how impossible it is to reconcile the new law with the state’s longstanding duties to prevent suicide and enforce laws prohibiting homicide.
There is no way to limit callers to people who are terminally ill, the target population of the End of Life Options Act. Anyone could call, including people who would formerly have been referred to a suicide prevention hotline, or people who want to learn exactly how to get away with ending the life of a family member. The law’s assisted suicide request form, whatever it may be called, provides the perfect alibi, with no further oversight once the lethal drugs are in the home. Any description of the actual provisions of the law that is given by state workers will clarify to the greedy heir of a senior with assets just how easy it would be to use the law’s recipe for abuse and get away with homicide. After all, the victim of any coercion in getting the form signed “to give them peace of mind” will not be around to testify after the drugs are mixed into their food.
Moreover, will the state go beyond providing information about the End of Life Options Act? Will it make any referrals? If it refers callers to Compassion & Choices, why not Final Exit Network, which actively assists people with both terminal and non-terminal conditions to kill themselves without the involvement of a doctor? If the state refers people anywhere, it should be to crisis hotlines, because anyone could be calling, not only people eligible under the Act. Again, the proposed phone line is impossible to reconcile with the state’s normal governmental functions.
Wouldn’t it be a greater service to appropriate funding to ensure that problems are investigated? The State of California has no proposed process for addressing, or even collecting, reports of coercion or abuse; still no way to investigate them; and yet this law would appropriate funds to hand out information on an assisted suicide law the primary purpose of which is to grant full legal immunities to doctors and other participants in the death of an elderly, ill or disabled person.
We oppose the state of California starting a dedicated phone line about how to kill yourself, or how to “assist” an ill relative to use the law, without resources to help people in distress to get the comfort and support they need to stay alive.
Diane Coleman, JD