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Assisted Suicide Bill In California Hits Major Roadblock


Now to the emotional debate over assisted suicide. A proposed law in California would allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication to some terminally ill patients who request it. But that bill stalled yesterday. Stephanie O'Neill from member station KPCC reports.

STEPHANIE O'NEILL, BYLINE: Lawmakers yanked the legislation from a committee vote at the last minute on Tuesday. The bill cleared the California Senate last month, but authors want more time to persuade key assembly members to support it. Toni Broaddus is California campaign director for Compassion & Choices, a main backer of the measure. She says she's optimistic despite time running out for two committees to vote on the legislation by next week.

TONI BROADDUS: We still think we can get them there. And we are continuing to look at all options for getting the bill through the legislature this year.

O'NEILL: Since its introduction in January, the measure's faced considerable opposition. The Catholic Church has long fought such measures on ethical grounds, while disability rights groups have argued that such laws expose the most vulnerable people to abuse. A slew of bills similar to California's hit state Houses throughout the nation this year. Tim Rosales is with Californians Against Assisted Suicide.

TIM ROSALES: So far in 2015, many of those legislative proposals have been defeated or, just like California, those bills have been pulled because of lack of support.

O'NEILL: In California and nationwide, support for such measures is high. But, Rosales says, that tends to wane once people learn more about them.

ROSALES: It's not about taking someone off of life support. It's not about someone having the right to refuse extraordinary means. Assisted suicide is simply about a doctor prescribing a lethal overdose of pills for the purpose of someone ending their life.

O'NEILL: If the legislation doesn't move forward next week, its authors are likely to pick it up again in January. For NPR News, I'm Stephanie O'Neill. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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