How California’s New Assisted Suicide Law Could Especially Hurt the Poor

The Daily Signal 6 October 2015
“My concern is for people who don’t have resources, who don’t have a choice.”

“You read about Oregon denying someone a lung transplant, but, ‘Here, you can you have these pills.’”

“That’s my fear about what this would become.”

That’s what Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a Democrat who represents the San Diego area, told the Sacramento Bee in an interview published in July.

Gonzalez is a Democrat who opposed California’s new physician-assisted suicide law, which was signed Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown, also a Democrat.

Gonzalez is right to be afraid.

In theory, the California law has safeguards ensuring that suicide is solely the patient’s choice. “Before the drugs can be prescribed, two California doctors must agree that the person has no more than six months to live,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle. “It is then the patient’s choice whether to take the drugs. Those who want to must affirm their intention 48 hours in advance and must take the drugs on their own, without help.”

Oregon’s Example
But there are many ways to influence people, to get them to the point where they do state that their intentions are to die. And the example of Oregon, which enacted physician-assisted suicide in 1997, provides plenty of reason to be concerned that people, especially those who are low-income, are susceptible to ill-intentioned persuasion.

Dr. William Toffler, an Oregon doctor, wrote in The Wall Street Journal in August that “the regular notices I receive indicating that many important services and drugs for my patients—even some pain medications—will not be covered by the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s Medicaid program” were “concerning.”

“Yet physician-assisted suicide is covered by the state and our collective tax dollars,” Toffler, who is also national director of Physicians for Compassionate Care, noted. “Supporters claim physician-assisted suicide gives patients choice, but what sort of a choice is it when life is expensive but death is free?”
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