Sen. Bill Monning, D- Carmel and Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, said they decided to make another attempt at passing the legislation after watching two legal efforts — in San Diego and San Francisco — fail in the courts this summer. The two judges in the lawsuits seeking to protect medically assisted suicide as a constitutional right said it was beyond the jurisdiction of the court to rule on such life and death matters.
Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, said in a press release announcing the introduction of the bill that time is of the essence:
"We will not wait another year," Eggman said. "We will not wait for a ballot measure. There are people right now who are facing a terminal diagnosis, watching this fight, praying for our success and hoping to be able to take control of their lives through these reforms. They don't have another year to wait; they are counting on this bill, this year."
Opponents of physician-assisted suicide expressed dismay over the renewed effort.
"We’re shocked that they would use this legislative maneuver to jam through a bill that’s clearly a life and death matter for Californians,” Marilyn Golden, senior policy analyst with the Disability Rights and Education Defense Fund, told KQED's April Dembosky.
Tim Rosales, a spokesman for Californians Against Assisted Suicide, said: "It is particularly troubling that in this rush to judgment, proponents are linking this bill with health care financing. "That should be truly frightening to those on Medi-Cal and subsidized health care, who quite logically fear a system where prescribing suicide pills could be elevated to a treatment option."
The earlier bill stalled in the health committee after a small, unusual group of holdouts -- all Southern California Democrats and almost all Latino -- deprived the legislation of the 10 votes needed for passage.
The assisted suicide issue isn't the only one getting a second look in the special session. Several Democratic lawmakers have introduced legislation that would define e-cigarettes as tobacco products and bring them under the state’s existing anti-smoking laws.
Jon Brooks, April Dembosky, John Myers, Marisa Lagos and the Associated Press contributed to this post.