I have followed the progress of California’s “assisted suicide” legislation since it began to wind its way through the legislature. Yesterday, the bill landed on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk, and he signed the controversial measure with the type of pontificating we have come to expect from our state’s chief executive:

Caught between conflicting moral arguments, Gov. Jerry Brown, a former Jesuit seminary student, on Monday signed a measure allowing physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients who want to hasten their deaths.

Approving the bill, whose opponents included the Catholic Church, appeared to be a gut-wrenching decision for the 77-year-old governor, who as a young man studied to enter the priesthood.

“In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death,” Brown added. “I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.”

California joins the deep blue states of Oregon, Washington, and Vermont in adopting “right to die with dignity” measures. The red state of Montana has a physician-assisted suicide option via court ruling.

Interestingly, those opposing the approval of this measure are worried that California’s healthcare system isn’t up for managing humane, life-ending options:

There were many, though, that opposed the effort and urged Brown to veto the legislation. They included those tied to Californians Against Assisted Suicide, whose spokesman Tim Rosales said that many were against the effort, including “progressive legislators representing low-income districts.”

On its website, Californians Against Assisted Suicide lists dozens of organization opposed to the bill Brown signed Monday. They include the American Academy of Medical Ethics, the American Medical Association, the California Catholic Conference, the Disability Rights Center and many others.

“We all know that ‘choice’ is a myth in the context of our unjust health care reality,” the group said after the state Senate passed the bill last month. “End-of-life treatment options are already limited for millions of people — constrained by poverty, disability discrimination, and other obstacles.

“Adding this so-called ‘choice’ into our dysfunctional health care system will push people into cheaper lethal options.”

The cost of deathcare is not an unreasonable concern—after all, the cost of health care has exploded in California:

Enrollment in the state’s healthcare program for the poor, known as Medi-Cal, has exploded by 50% since President Obama’s signature law took effect. Although the federal government picks up most of the tab, state costs have also been growing, and faster than expected.

Meanwhile, the annual bill for healthcare for public retirees — a benefit promised decades ago — has more than doubled in the last decade. Current and retired workers have accumulated $71.8 billion in healthcare benefits as of June last year, and the state has set aside almost nothing to cover the costs.

I am shocked—shocked!—that big government management of medical care is draining our state’s budget.

In an effort to bring down costs, Sacramento is now trying to enact price controls on pharmaceuticals.

As the issue bubbles up in national and state headlines, as well as the 2016 presidential race, the California Legislature approved one proposal for dealing with high-cost drugs and sent it to the governor.

AB 339, by Assembly member Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park), would cap out-of-pocket costs for a 30-day supply of prescription drugs at $250. The bill also contains provisions that ensure health plans do not place most or all drugs used to treat a certain condition on the highest cost tier in their drug formularies.

Trying to alter the relationship between supply and demand is a prescription for economic failure…so I expect Brown will sign this bill mid-October!

I suppose the good news is that there is at least one more legal route out of California! Though no matter which way one goes, their tax dollars are definitely staying in Sacramento.


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