California Assisted Suicide
California Catholic Daily
San Diego, CA
October 1, 2007
California assisted-suicide promoters adopt new tactic after defeat in
legislature: using religion to help people kill themselves
Physician-assisted suicide advocates, unable to pass legislation in California
and lacking support for a ballot initiative campaign, are now setting up a
“ministry” to help frail and medically vulnerable people kill themselves.
In June, the co-authors of the assisted-suicide bill, Assembly members Patty
Berg and Lloyd Levine, killed AB 374, the “California Compassionate Choices
Act,” in committee after it became clear they did not have the votes to pass the
measure. The defeat was due largely to the ardent opposition of
In late September press conferences held in San Francisco and Los Angeles,
representatives of the new End of Life Consultation Service are now proposing to
“counsel” terminally ill persons on the best ways to terminate their own
"Volunteers will neither provide nor administer the means for aid in dying,"
Rev. John Brooke, a United Church of Christ minister from Cotati, told the
Medianews Sacramento Bureau. "Clients will obtain and self-administer these
means. We will not break or defy the law."
Representatives of End of Life Consultation Service say they will advise the
terminally ill on how to obtain better pain treatment and palliative care.
Volunteer counselors and a handful of clergy also will advise the terminally ill
against “violent” suicide, instead favoring “peaceful” self-termination.
"The positive points about ELCS -- advocating for hospice and palliative care --
must not cloud the fundamental immorality of the consultation itself," Fr.
Gerald Coleman, adjunct professor of moral theology at Santa Clara University,
told religion reporter Paula Doyle, according to the-tidings.com, the web site
of the Los Angeles archdiocesan weekly.
Other pro-suicide groups, such as the Final Exit Network, the Hemlock Society,
and End of Life Choices tout suicide methods such as the use of plastic bags and
stockpiling drugs. Such groups, often with names that melodiously combine
“Compassionate,” “Choice,” “Caring,” and “Dignity” are easy to find on the
Internet. California Catholic Daily found dozens of sites and newsgroups using
alt.suicide.methods, alt.suicide.holiday, talk.euthanasia and other easy
Such sites have been abettors in an undisclosed number suicides over the past
decade, although their legal liability is murky. Liability would seemingly be
more direct for a group like End of Life Consultation Service, however, which
will provide ‘counselors,’ including Christian ministers, to make house-calls,
and even come to the bedside to “console” their clients as they take their
self-administered fatal overdoses.
"This effort to put a clerical collar on Dr. Kevorkian only makes assisted
suicide creepier," Tim Rosales of Californians Against Assisted Suicide told
California Catholic Daily. He says their activities are “not only risky and
dangerous, but sure to open the door to numerous questions regarding coercion
Randy Thomasson, president of the pro-life Campaign for Children and Families,
told the Contra Costa Times that End of Life Consultation Service sounded to him
like the formation of "California death squads." Noting that California has laws
against suicide, Thomasson called for an investigation by authorities once the
consultation service begins.
“What this California group wants to do is morally no different than telling
someone standing on a ledge to jump," said Fr. Frank Pavone, president of the
National Pro-Life Religious Council in a Sept. 27 statement published by
© California Catholic Daily 2007. All Rights Reserved.
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