April 2005


AB 654 Demonstrates NO REAL SAFEGUARDS!


Bring this to the attention of your legislators, it is important.


AB 654 as amended on April 19, 2005 itself demonstrates that there are no real safeguards possible for this physician-assisted suicide bill and that it is already on the slippery slope.


The amended version of AB 654 essentially removes the penalty for homicide committed through forgery or coercion by no longer defining those acts as a felony, as can be seen from the following bill excerpt. (Strikeouts are words deleted and italics are words added by the amendment.)


   7198.5.  (a)  A person who, without authorization of the patient willfully alters or forges a request for 
   medication or conceals or destroys a rescission of that request with the intent or effect of causing the 
   patient's death, shall be guilty of a felony.
  Nothing in this chapter limits civil or criminal liability resulting from other negligent conduct or intentional
  misconduct by any person.  
   (b) A person who coerces or exerts undue influence on a patient to request medication for the purpose 
   of ending the patient's life, or to destroy a rescission of such a request, shall be guilty of a felony.  
   (c) Nothing in this chapter limits liability for civil damages resulting from other negligent conduct or 
   intentional misconduct by any person.  
    (b)  The penalties in this chapter do not preclude criminal penalties applicable under other law for 
   conduct that is inconsistent with this chapter.

Penalties for suspected coercion or forgery with deadly intent would now be relegated to existing law that somehow would be applied. Who will investigate? Who will press charges? Will the district attorney enter into monitoring what is legal although possibly abused? Can he disprove acting in “good faith”?  By eliminating definitions of crimes and minimizing liabilities, the bill encourages expansion of physician-assisted suicide. This amendment to AB 654 itself demonstrates the slippery slope.


The already inadequate reporting requirements of the Oregon Death With Dignity Act, which AB 654 is modeled after, had been further diminished in AB 654 by eliminating the requirement for pharmacists to report dispensing of lethal pills. Thus, that safeguard against doctors who don’t report their lethal prescriptions has been removed. The extent of physician-assisted suicide in California would be unknown, as would the whereabouts of unused lethal pills. AB 654 is not about an intensely personal decision; it is about a disastrous decision for the individual involved and for the general public.


Contact your Assembly Member and State Senator now, express your concern over this very dangerous bill and ask your legislators to vote against this bill. Their phone number may be found in the government white pages in the front of the phone book.


Life Priority Network   l