The following comes from a May 6 LA Times article by David Lazarus:
Medical leaders at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena voted behind closed doors this week for the facility’s hundreds of doctors and affiliated personnel to opt out of California’s assisted suicide law, which goes into effect June 9.
If the proposed amendment to the hospital’s medical rules is approved by the board of directors this month, Huntington will become one of the largest non-religious medical institutions statewide to turn its back on a law that Gov. Jerry Brown called “a comfort” to anyone “dying in prolonged and excruciating pain.”
The End of Life Option Act allows doctors, medical groups and hospitals to opt out of the law’s guidelines for assisting the terminally ill achieve a dignified end. Most, if not all, religious hospitals are expected to reject the law.
For religious hospitals, the new law is as contentious as birth control. Providence Health & Services, which operates six medical centers in Southern California, said it would be opting out because assisted suicide is incompatible with the system’s Catholic beliefs.
“We at Providence believe intentionally ending a person’s life is not consistent with core principles of the professions of medicine and nursing,” said Patricia Aidem, a Providence spokeswoman. “We are committed to providing appropriate support for dying persons and their families through the final stages of life.
Huntington’s thinking is less clear. The amendment shown to doctors offers no reason for opting out of the law. What is clear, however, is that the move, if approved, would have potentially far-reaching consequences for the surrounding community.
The hospital says it has a medical staff of “more than 800 active physicians serving residents of the greater San Gabriel Valley and beyond.” Many local doctors with their own practices might be unwilling to jeopardize their access to Huntington by assisting terminally-ill patients under the terms of the law.