Skip to Full Menu

Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

California Assisted Suicide Measure Defeated, For Now
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 6, 2005

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA--Disability and other groups opposing a physician-assisted suicide law in California declared at least a temporary victory Thursday as the measure failed to collect enough votes to pass the 80-member state Assembly.

As a result, Assembly Bill 654, dubbed the "California Compassionate Choices Act", is essentially dead.

"At the end of the day proponents couldn't find 20 votes to publicly support this bill," said Laura Remson Mitchell of the California Disability Alliance, in a press statement.

"When legislators realized this bill was not about the right to die, but was in fact about undermining our healthcare system and doctors assisting in their patients' suicide, support evaporated as it always has."

However, the bill's sponsors said they would add the contents of AB 654 to unrelated legislation that has already passed the Assembly, but is waiting for votes in the state Senate. Supporters of the measure said this tactic would give them more time to debate the issue and gather the necessary votes after the Senate considers it.

A recent poll showed that 70 percent of Californians surveyed support a state law making assisted suicide legal.

Mitchell dismissed the move as little more than a publicity stunt.

"They will have even less support in the Senate than in the Assembly," she said. "This battle is over."

The bill was modeled after Oregon's voter-approved "Death with Dignity Act". As written, it would allow people considered to be "mentally competent" and in the final months of a terminal illness to request a prescription for a lethal dose of a drug that they would take on their own.

Many disability rights groups have successfully opposed efforts in several states to legalize assisted suicide. They argue such laws would make people with severe disabilities more vulnerable, especially at a time when funding for such things as in-home services, health care and pain relief is low.

"We don't like that the very first service that's fully funded is suicide," Cheryl Bergan, a public policy analyst with the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, told the Eureka Times-Standard.

"California Disability Alliance Hails Defeat of Doctor-Assisted Suicide" (Justice For All);&sort=D
"Bill on assisted suicide suspended; efforts move to Senate" (Lake County Record-Bee)
"Disability groups outline opposition" (Times-Standard),1413,127~2896~2896636,00.html


©2018 The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
 370 Centennial Office Building  658 Cedar Street   St. Paul, Minnesota 55155 
Phone: 651.296.4018   Toll-free number: 877.348.0505   MN Relay Service: 800.627.3529 OR 711   Fax: 651.297.7200 
Email:   View Privacy Policy   An Equal Opportunity Employer 

The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.