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California Reverses Suicide Mandate Against Christian Doctors

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California has reversed its stance on enforcing a law that compelled medical practitioners to participate in physician-assisted suicides against their own beliefs. The state has agreed to pay $300,000 to Christian medical professionals who challenged the law in court.

Christian doctors no longer have to participate in patient suicides against their conscience.

Christian doctors no longer have to participate in patient suicides against their conscience.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/18/2023 (1 year ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: California, euthanasia, suicide, killing, medical, doctors, ruling

In 2015, California legalized assisted suicide through the End of Life Option Act, which allowed physicians to opt out of participating and protected them from punishment if they refused to inform patients about their right to assisted suicide or provide referrals to other willing physicians.

However, in October 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 380 into law, which maintained that participation in assisted suicide was voluntary but mandated that physicians who refused to participate had to refer patients to other providers. The law's definition of "participation" was so narrow that it effectively coerced physicians into engaging in the practice, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). On behalf of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) and Dr. Leslee Cochrane, ADF filed a lawsuit against the law.

Last September, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued a preliminary injunction, preventing the enforcement of the law. Recently, ADF announced that a settlement had been reached in which the state agreed not to enforce any criminal or civil punishment, including professional discipline or licensing sanctions, against California-licensed physicians who refuse or fail to assist a patient in ending their life. The state also agreed to pay CMDA $300,000 to cover attorneys' fees and other expenses.

Kevin Theriot, ADF Senior Counsel, stated, "Our clients seek to live out their faith in their medical practice, and that includes valuing every human life entrusted to their care. Participating in physician-assisted suicide very clearly would violate their consciences. This is a significant victory for religious and conscientious physicians in California. The government can't force any healthcare professional to act against their faith or medical ethics."

While this ruling represents a win for religious freedom and medical ethics, the ongoing national debate between the assisted-suicide movement and conscience rights is far from resolved.

The Biden administration has proposed repealing federal regulations that protect professionals who object to participating in "abortion, sterilization, and certain other health services," "assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing," as well as protecting managed care organizations with moral or religious objections to counseling or referral for specific services.

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