Catholic Church Working to Undermine California Assisted Suicide Bill

September 17, 2015

Eight years ago, then-Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony assailed Fabian Núñez for his support of legislation allowing doctors to prescribe fatal medication to terminally ill patients, saying the Assembly speaker was being led toward “the culture of death.”

This year, with a variation of the assisted-death bill revived in the special session, Mahony’s successor, José Horacio Gómez, said it is the most vulnerable populations – the poor, elderly, minorities and the disabled – who “are going to suffer from this legislation.”

The Catholic Church has for decades waded into matters of state, on issues as varied as immigration and abortion to the death penalty and climate change. The church also advocates on behalf of a substantial financial empire that includes hospitals and schools. To that end, it has resorted to more traditional lobbying approaches, spending hundreds of thousands annually to influence the Capitol.

Between the Catholic Conference and the Alliance of Catholic Health Care, the church has committed nearly $200,000 a quarter on lobbying in California since 2013, focusing on dozens of issues. The church successfully lobbied for measures banning districts from charging teachers for training, protecting tenants who flee dire domestic situations, expanding food donation tax credits and assisting formerly incarcerated people in need of mental health and substance treatment.

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