By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
The 2022 California assisted suicide report indicates that the number of assisted suicide deaths increased by more than 63% and the number of prescriptions for lethal drugs increasing by 47% from the 2021 report.
As with previous years, the report implies that the deaths were voluntary (self-administered), but the information in the report does not address that subject.
In 2022 there were 853 reported assisted suicide deaths and 1270 lethal cocktail prescriptions written. That was up from 522 reported assisted suicide deaths and 863 lethal prescriptions written in 2021.
The report stated that 173 people who were approved for assisted suicide died from their underlying illness or other causes and 294 people received a lethal drug cocktail but their ingestion status is unknown.
When the ingestion status is unknown, the person received the lethal drug ‘cocktail’ but the California Department of Public Health does not know whether or not the person died by assisted suicide. How many of the 294 people whose ingestion status is unknown actually died by assisted suicide?
Under-reporting of assisted suicide deaths and abuse of the law is covered-up by the reporting system. The California assisted suicide data comes from the reports submitted by the doctors who approved and prescribed the lethal assisted suicide drug cocktail. This self-reporting system makes it is impossible to know when a doctor does not send in a report or abuses the law.
The data in the report indicates that 89% reported assisted suicide death the person was white; 6.3% were Asian 2.8% were Hispanic; .5% were Black and .5% were native American.
California population data indicates that 39% of Californians are Hispanic, 35% are White, 15% are Asian and 5% are Black. Clearly, assisted suicide is an issue of white privilege.
One reason for the 63% increase in assisted suicide deaths in 2022 is in 2021 California legislators expanded the assisted suicide law by passing SB 380 which:
- Reduced the mandatory 15-day waiting period between the two oral requests to 48 hours. It is important to note that 78.7% of those who received lethal prescription in 2022 waited less than 15 days.
- Eliminated the original law’s sunset clause, which eliminated the requirement to review the law.
- Forced doctors who oppose assisted suicide to refer the person who requests assisted suicide.
In response to the passing of SB 380, in March 2022, a group of California Doctors launched a court case to protect their conscience rights (https://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2022/03/california-doctors-group-sues-for.html]).
In September 2022 U.S. District Judge Fernando Aenlle-Rocha ruled that the California End of Life Options Act, amended by SB 380, violated the First Amendment rights of doctors by requiring them to participate in assisted suicide.
In April 2023, The United Spinal Association, Not Dead Yet, Institute for Patients’ Rights, Communities Actively Living Independent and Free, Lonnie VanHook, and Ingrid Tischer launched a lawsuit to strike down the California assisted suicide law with the goal of the case going to the United States Supreme Court to strike down assisted laws throughout the US.
The case asserts that the assisted suicide act is a discriminatory scheme, which creates a two-tiered medical system in which people who are suicidal receive radically different treatment responses by their physicians and protections from the State depending on whether the person has what the physician deems to be a “terminal disease”—which, by definition, is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The 2022 California assisted suicide report amended the data in the 2021 report. The 2022 report stated that there were 522 reported assisted suicide deaths in 2021 while the 2021 report stated there were 486 reported assisted suicide deaths. Since California releases its assisted suicide report in July, the data should be more accurate.
Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.