A California law that requires doctors to refer patients who seek physician-assisted suicide is being challenged by Leslee Cochrane, a Christian physician, and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA).
The law, known as SB 380 and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in October, requires a doctor who objects to physician-assisted suicide to write the date of a patient’s request for end-of-life drugs “in the medical record” and then transfer the record “with documentation” to a “new health care provider or health care entity.” The lawsuit views such facilitation of the assisted suicide process as morally tantamount to participating in the murder of the patient.
The new law lowers the waiting period for end-of-life drugs from 15 days to 48 hours. This changes the previously existing law, known as the End of Life Option Act, which took effect in 2016.
Although the law says physicians who object to assisted suicide “shall not be required to participate,” the State of California recently eliminated important safeguards from the End of Life Options Act, forcing the hand of conscientious physicians to participate in the process.
Christian legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represents the group of Christian medical professionals, stated in the suit filed in federal court on Tuesday that “over 90% of CMDA members [of which Cochrane is a member] would rather stop practicing medicine than be forced to participate in assisted suicide or other practices in violation of their consciences.”
ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle, director of the ADF Center for Life, said: “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, or referring a patient for, physician-assisted suicide very clearly would violate their consciences. No health care professional should be forced to act against their religious beliefs and medical ethics, and the state of California is wrong to enforce such coercion.”
The suit says that the new law violates the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees of free speech and religious liberty.
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