California's legislature has moved forward with a bill meant to legalize assisted suicide. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, opposed the legislation, instead calling for a "radical commitment" to help those who are near death.
Last week the State Senate approved the End of Life Option Act, which, if enacted, would allow doctor-assisted suicide for patients who are terminally ill.
Known as Senate Bill 128, the proposed legislation passed the Senate in a vote of 23 ayes to 15 noes following third reading.
Toni Broaddus, California Campaign director for the pro-assisted suicide group Compassion & Choices, praised the results of the Senate vote.
"This is a historic moment in our state for terminally ill Californians facing unbearable suffering who need and want more end-of-life options," stated Broaddus.
"We are thrilled with the Senate vote and optimistic that the Assembly will respond to the voices of dying Californians by passing this legislation before its Sept. 11 deadline."
Introduced in January and sponsored by Senators Lois Wolk and Bill Monning, SB 128 seeks to establish procedures for performing doctor-assisted suicide.
"The bill would also establish the forms to request aid-in-dying medication, an aid-in-dying drug and, under specified circumstances, an interpreter declaration to be signed subject to penalty of perjury, thereby imposing a crime and state-mandated local program," reads SB 128's "Legislative Counsel's Digest."
"This bill would require specified information to be documented in the individual's medical record, including, among other things, all oral and written requests for an aid-in-dying drug."
SB 128 went through multiple Senate committees. The Senate Health Committee passed it in March with a vote of 6-2-1.
From there it was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it passed in April with a vote of 5-2-0, and then the Senate Appropriations Committee in late May with a vote of 5-2-0.
Among the critics of SB 128 was Saddleback Pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren, whose son Matthew committed suicide in April of 2013.
"I oppose this law as a theologian and as the father of a son who took his life after struggling with mental illness for 27 years," said Warren at an April conference.
"The prospect of dying can be frightening … But we belong to God, and death and life are in God's hands. ... We need to make a radical commitment to be there for those who are dying in our lives."