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California's Catholics continue to oppose assisted-suicide bill revived in state Assembly
After a California Assembly committee maneuvered to revive a bill legalizing assisted suicide, Roman Catholics and others opposed to the practice continued to protest the measure. - photo by Mark A. Kellner
After a California Assembly committee maneuvered to revive a bill legalizing assisted suicide, Roman Catholics and others opposed to the practice continued to protest the measure.

The bill advanced out of an Assembly committee on Friday but may fail amid a crush of end-of-session legislation or be vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, the Ventura County Star reported. Meanwhile, media reports indicate, protests continue.

"On Aug. 28, supporters and opponents of assisted suicide rallied outside the offices of Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), California State Assembly leader, whom both parties consider a key member in the legislative process," the website of the Los Angeles Roman Catholic archdiocese reported.

Eleven-year-old Joseph Domingo carried a banner reading "Dont kill my grandma," the news service reported.

Despite an earlier defeat, state legislators are trying again to advance a right-to-die bill that would "allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to mentally competent, terminally ill patients," the San Jose Mercury News reported.

The move comes after opposition from the Roman Catholic Church derailed a similar attempt earlier this year.

"People are counting on us to win the freedom to end their life the way they choose," said Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, co-author of the legislation, the Mercury News reported. "The End of Life Options Bill" was reintroduced during a special legislative session on health care funding and is now due to be considered by the Assembly's finance committee.

Taking this route bypasses the Assembly's health committee, the Mercury News noted, where the measure first "stalled over growing personal and religious concerns from a group of mostly Southern California Democrats."

This year's attempts to pass right-to-die legislation were inspired, the newspaper said, by the case of Brittany Maynard, a California newlywed who received a diagnosis of an aggressive brain tumor that left her with months to live. She moved to Oregon, where that state's Death With Dignity law allows for assisted suicide, and ended her life on Nov. 1 of that year.

Because Maynard chose to release a YouTube video and publish a blog about her choice, many Christians reached out to her on their own blogs and in other media, pleading with the 29-year-old not to end her life. Kara Tippetts, a 38-year-old mother who had terminal cancer, pleaded with Maynard to change her mind. Tippets died in March from her illness.

Catholic leaders in California, including Los Angeles Archbishop Jos H. Gomez, opposed the June attempt to move a bill similar to the new measure through the health committee. "For the Catholic community here in Los Angeles, this is not a 'Catholic' issue or a question of our doctrine or ethics. For us, the issue of physician-assisted suicide involves fundamental questions of human dignity and social justice," Archbishop Gomez wrote in the diocesan newspaper after the earlier attempt failed.

Just how often assisted-suicide requests are granted in nations where the practice is allowed remains an open question. According to Reuters, a study in JAMA Internal Medicine said doctors in the Netherlands granted only 25 percent of requests for assistance in dying. However, a related study published in the same journal noted that in Belgium's Flanders province, assisted suicides rose "from 1.9 percent of all deaths in 2007 to 4.6 percent in 2013."
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