California lawmakers are considering a bill that could be deadly for residents of nursing homes.
In effect, Senate Bill 481 permits nursing homes to declare a patient incompetent to make their own medical decisions. Then, nursing home staff would have the authority to make those decisions on their behalf. The bill's author is Democratic State Senator Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician who has served in the California legislature since 2010. The Senate Committee on Health released its analysis of the bill earlier this week.
OneNewsNow spoke with Brad Dacus, attorney and president of the Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute. He says SB 481 is dangerous for vulnerable people.
"This is very alarming," he began. "It removes the layers of advocacy for dependent adults that we presently have under the law and will only open up the door for more egregious taking of innocent human life before it's time."
Doctor-assisted suicide is legal in California now – and presumably nursing home staff could make a decision to terminate a patient's life, even if the nursing home resident might be opposed to it.
"That's why this is so alarming," Dacus said. "We've already seen abuses through guardianships appointed by courts – we've seen that first hand at the Pacific Justice Institute. This legislation is only going to make it much more widespread. It'll be a terrible, terrible example for other states across the country to follow."
As with the assisted-suicide law, there are few genuine safeguards, which would make it easier to victimize nursing home patients.
The California ProLife Council, which opposes the legislation, is offering an online petition for those who agree with that stand. SB 481 is supported by the California Hospital Association and several other groups.