California’s right-to-die law betrays the state’s progressive principles

*** The following ran in the LA Times on October 7, 2015

by Charles C. Camosy

What’s the calling card value of the National Rifle Assn. and other conservative organizations? Skepticism of government infringing on the autonomy and freedom of individuals, of course. But in yet another example of America’s incoherent politics, assisted suicide has been legalized in liberal California by appealing to precisely these conservative values.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that the best arguments against assisted suicide — especially advanced by such liberal icons as E.J. Dionne and Victoria Kennedy — are progressive. Liberals are generally happy for government to restrict individual freedoms to prevent violence and killing. They are also generally skeptical of the idea that choice leads to genuine freedom, especially for those without power on the margins of our culture.

Indeed, liberal states such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and, until this week, California had all recently rejected such legislation. Britain’s attempt to pass an assisted-suicide bill also went down to overwhelming defeat.

To get a victory in California, its supporters were forced to bypass the regular legislative process (which defeated the bill) and instead consider the bill in a healthcare special session, and under unusual rules. This context is as telling as it is disturbing.