The following came in an Oct. 1 email to Cal Catholic.

Here is the current plan for California from the Compassion and Choices website:
C&C California recently opened an office in Hollywood, is aggressively growing its lists of donors, volunteers and spokespeople, and recently hired a new state campaign director – a Stanford-educated lawyer with an organizing background. C&C is also honored to work with a brave activist, Jennifer Glass, who is dying from lung cancer and speaking out about the need for death-with-dignity legislation. Jennifer was featured in an NPR story on the push for a new law in California, and maintains a lively and candid Facebook page about her life with cancer. Jennifer will be an asset to C&C California’s Voices for Choice and other campaigns.

A new push for legalizing assisted suicide in California

The following comes from an Oct. 1 story by Vicki Evans in Catholic San Francisco

The state of California has passed some of the most permissive laws in the country on social issues including abortion, contraception coverage, and embryonic stem cell research. The one issue on which it has been unable to gain traction is physician assisted suicide, but it’s not for lack of trying. In 2007, California’s most recent assisted-suicide bill called the Compassionate Choices Act failed. This marked the sixth time since 1988 that assisted-suicide advocates have failed in their attempts to transform the crime of assisted suicide into a medical treatment in California.

There are reasons for their past lack of success. One is an effective coalition formed in the early 2000s called Californians Against Assisted Suicide, whose members include the California Catholic Conference, disability rights advocates, medical professionals and religious and civil rights organizations. Another is the fact that the history of the right-to-die movement is somewhat macabre. Compassion & Choices, a nationwide organization that has the dubious honor of being the leader in promoting “aid in dying” legislation is intent on providing it to Californians. Formerly called the Hemlock Society, Compassion & Choices is now trying to change its image from one of merchants of death to one of … compassion and choices. Their motto: my life, my death, my choice.

One of the best ways to accomplish their goals is to go mainstream and do so with the backing of the elite. High society was present in force at the Compassion & Choices “annual empowerment luncheon” in April 2013 at the Westin St. Francis Hotel. It was “designed to raise funds and awareness for patients’ rights and end-of-life decision making.” In February 2014, Ann Getty hosted a luncheon for Compassion & Choices’ major donors. And two months later, the Nob Hill Gazette sponsored their 2014 luncheon at $150 per head, with U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein serving as honorary chair. The organization has been busy placing numerous op-eds of end-of-life stories carefully selected to evoke the desired emotional response in the public. They have also hired a new Latino legal director and are approaching city councils to support local resolutions regarding “death with dignity” and end-of-life decision making.

Unfortunately, these tactics are hitting close to home. In November 2013, Foster City sponsored a Senior Showcase Information Fair at the Foster City Recreation Center. Compassion & Choices was advertised as one of the planned exhibitors, but thanks to the proactive efforts of San Mateo Pro-Life, they did not show up. Annually they attempt to lure San Francisco archdiocesan Catholic schools to participate in their high school essay contest. There is actually a Compassion & Choices glossy magazine.

Their online petition to “bring end-of-life choice to California” asks signers to declare, “We feel strongly that terminally ill, mentally competent adults should have the right to medication that they can use to achieve a peaceful death.”

Expect the introduction of new assisted suicide legislation here in the not-too-distant future or a California ballot initiative in 2016.

Evans is respect life coordinator for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

To read the original Catholic San Francisco story, click here.


Nonprofit involved in Oregon aid-in-dying movement has hired staff in California, begun recruiting supporters

The following comes from a Sept. 30 story by Steve Lopez in the L.A. Times.

Nearly two-thirds of Californians in a recent poll say they would support a death-with-dignity ballot measure

‘Our polls indicate the state is ready’ to back death with dignity, United Methodist minister in Pomona says

Seventeen years ago, Oregon became the first of five states to offer what became known as death with dignity. Now a renewed effort is underway to add California to the list.

Past attempts have failed here, but Compassion & Choices, the nonprofit organization involved in the Oregon aid-in-dying movement, has hired staff in California and has begun recruiting supporters in Santa Barbara and San Mateo counties.

The group has held community meetings, lobbied local public officials, and is hoping to find California prosecutors who will agree not to prosecute doctors who prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients who request it and are able to self-administer it. A ballot measure is also a consideration.

It’s not going to be easy to pull this off, proponents concede, and the process could take years. In the past, statewide attempts have been shot down by heavily financed religious groups — primarily the Catholic Church — and some physicians. But advocates are encouraged by a recent poll of 500 likely voters, conducted for Compassion & Choices, that asked this question:

“The Death with Dignity Act would give a terminally ill person, who is mentally competent, the right to request and receive a prescription for life-ending medication from a physician. If the election were held today, would you vote to favor or to oppose this ballot measure?”

Nearly two-thirds of those polled said they were in favor, including 53% of Republicans.

“I think our polls indicate the state is ready,” said Rev. Ignacio Castuera, a United Methodist minister in Pomona. Castuera said he thinks the gathering storm of baby boomers who grew up in “the age of Aquarius” are likely to want the freedom to make such personal choices when they near the end.

Castuera, a Compassion & Choices board member, said he became an advocate decades ago, when he ministered in Hollywood during the AIDS epidemic.

“I was given the rare honor of being present at times when people made decisions to not go the way of their friends who had horrible deaths,” said Castuera….

To read the entire L.A. Times story, click here.