California is now one of five states whose governments actively promote the death of their citizens.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed ABxs15 – the legalized suicide law – stating he would not want to be left in prolonged agony. Brown knows – or would if he listened to dozens of medical professionals who testified before legislative committees – that no one need be left to such a fate. Palliative care – management of incurable conditions to assure comfort until the end – has advanced to the point chronic agony can be eliminated.
Seniors Against Suicide, a partner in the Californians Against Suicide Coalition, launched a Veto Referendum effort to place the question on the 2016 ballot, an effort that failed to gather enough signatures by deadline.
The course of legalizing assisted suicide in California is as ghoulish as the law itself. A young California woman named Brittany Maynard became suicide’s icon in 2014; she suffered from glioblastoma, a disease both painful and fatal in late stages.
Maynard published plans to die in 2015 before the disease ran its full course, and moved to Oregon to commit suicide legally. Two days before her scheduled death – long before the pain began – she announced a desire to live. The next day someone other than Maynard posted on social media she was “back on schedule” and the next day she was dead.
The circumstances were so bizarre that sponsors pulled the bill from consideration before a vote could be taken.
Within days of her death a cure for the glioblastoma she so feared – using adult stem cell therapy – was announced. Since adult stem cells use no fetal tissue, it appeared life had won a great victory. However, backers of legalized suicide snuck the bill onto an appropriations measure and slipped it past publicity.
The ghoulish aspects of this law transcend one suspicious death. Records show non-terminal patients take their own lives at an accelerated pace wherever assisted suicide gains legitimacy. In Oregon alone, the rate jumped 49 percent.
It is a short road from assisted death to euthanasia; the Netherlands and Scandinavian nations rode that road to its end some time ago. In this country we already face the spectre of killing babies who survive abortion, not to mention the harvest of body parts by Planned Parenthood.
All these things are the inevitable components of a culture of death. It is the only destination once we designate human arbiters of life and death.
California’s death backers claim safeguards against mistakes, miscommunication, mental instability – and mercenary friends and family. Truth is the law does not require a psych evaluation of the patient, nor even a mental health professional signing the death request. There is no re-opening the question before death begs all questions, and no way to confidently declare a person six months from death – as the law provides. An anonymous person posted Brittany Maynard’s “re-dedication to death” on social media. Even the Netherlands, where defective infants are put to death under suspicious circumstances, has more protection.
No Californian is guilt free in the culture of death we have created – through the government we elect yearly. We lead the nation in elective abortion, suicide, and the historic massacre of indigenous peoples. Yet we have a golden opportunity to walk the path of repentance on behalf of our state. This referendum represents such an opportunity.
The Hebrew prophet Jeremiah was a sinful man like the rest of his people. Yet when God called him, he turned away from earned status – first his personal inadequacy and then on behalf of his people. Our God is a God of do-overs; by Chapter 32 of his book, Jeremiah knows Israel is going down despite his post-repentance efforts and he asks God, “What now?”
God tells him to go to his home village of Anathoth where there is a piece of Real Estate he is to buy. Jerusalem and the nation are about to fall and God wants His servant to engage in land speculation? No. God plans to redeem the nation and each of her people who turn to him for life. Jeremiah has already made that commitment and God offers him a ground floor chance to participate in the redemption.
We in California have the same opportunity in the face of our culture of death; we can choose life and become first fruits of the rollback of that culture into a culture of life.
Let each of us Google the Californians Against Suicide Coalition, our local senior advocacy group, or any Catholic church – they tend to take the lead in life issues – and sign their petition. Then let us vote this grisly law off the books and begin the road back to a culture of life.