Court rules California cannot force doctors morally-opposed to assisted suicide to participate in the procedure

A section of California’s assisted suicide law was rejected by a federal judge, who deemed it to be unconstitutional to mandate all doctors in the state to participate in the procedure.

The law mandated that doctors in California who were not comfortable personally prescribing euthanasia drugs inform the patient that they can’t do this, add a note to the patient’s record and then refer them to a more suitable doctor.

Those who raised the lawsuit objected to having to note their patients wishes and said that this violates their belief in the sanctity of life.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Aenlle-Rocha said it was unacceptable to force doctors with religious or moral objections to deal with a patient’s request for euthanasia, and refer them to another physician.

As the San Francisco Chronicle reported, Aenlle-Rocha’s ruling notes that this violates their freedom of speech, and requires them to play a role in the death of their patients.

“The ultimate outcome of this requirement is that non-participating providers are compelled to participate in the Act through this documentation requirement, despite their objections to assisted suicide,” Aenlle-Rocha wrote, adding that doctors “have demonstrated they are likely to suffer a violation of a constitutional right absent an injunction,” and that “they are likely to succeed on their Free Speech claim” because the documentation requirement under SB 380 “exceeds merely managing medical records—it imposes an affirmative documentation requirement.”

A group of doctors with the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) filed a lawsuit in February against the portion of the law that mandated their involvement, and requested that the law be blocked while the court considers the suit. CMDA, alongside Dr. Leslee Cochrane, was represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

“Our clients seek to give their patients the best possible healing care, including comfort and dignity, until natural death occurs,” ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot said in a statement in July.

He added, “The Christian physicians we represent have personal religious convictions and professional ethics that oppose the practice of assisted suicide, and it’s illegal for the state of California to force these doctors to participate in this practice. We urge the court to stop this irreparable harm while our lawsuit moves forward.”

“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,” he said. “We’re pleased the court followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in NIFLA v. Becerra that clarified First Amendment protections extend to religious medical professionals.”




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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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