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LIFE DIGEST: Assisted suicide dies in Calif. legislature; Pelosi comments irk pro-lifers

WASHINGTON (BP)–Physician-assisted suicide is dead for now in the California legislature.

Sponsors of a bill to legalize assisted suicide set aside the measure June 7 in the California Assembly as the deadline neared for legislative action this year, the Sacramento Bee reported. The bill would have enabled doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to be used by patients with less than three months to live.

With the defeat of assisted suicide in California, Oregon remains the only state to have legalized the practice.

“Everyone who respects innocent human life should be grateful that California has resisted placing lethal weapons into the hands of physicians,” Randy Thomasson, president of the state’s Campaign for Children and Families, said in a written release. “Depressed patients need love, family, spiritual counsel, and proven pain medication, not [to be] handed what amounts to a gun to the head.”

In other state news:

— The New Jersey Assembly voted 56-18 for a bill that will require pharmacists to fill prescriptions for all legal drugs, including the “morning-after” pill, which has abortion-inducing properties. The Senate had passed the measure previously. Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, is expected to sign the legislation.

— The New Hampshire Senate voted 15-9 for a measure that would rescind a 2003 law requiring parental notification before under-age girls can have abortions. The House already had approved the bill, and Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, has said he will sign it, according to the Associated Press. A federal judge had ruled that the law is unconstitutional, AP reported.

ESCR FROM GOD, PELOSI SUGGESTS –- Stem cell research that destroys embryos is divine in its origin, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi seemed to imply in a June 7 debate on the floor of the House of Representatives. According to The New York Times, the California Democrat said, “Science is a gift of God to all of us and science has taken us to a place that is biblical in its power to cure. And that is the embryonic stem cell research.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a written release, “Of course, it’s complete nonsense to suggest that God wants us to destroy human embryos, since they are His own creation. This is just the latest example of the Left’s aggressive efforts to lure the unsuspecting into supporting immoral and unethical policies which are whitewashed with spiritual words and phrases.”

Bioethics specialist Wesley Smith derided Pelosi’s comment. “The thing is: [Embryonic stem cell research] hasn’t cured anything. This kind of wild hype is shameful and should be ridiculed far and wide,” he wrote on the bioethics.com weblog.

The House passed later in the day by a 247-176 vote a bill to weaken a policy instituted by Bush in 2001 that prohibits federal grants for destructive ESCR. The measure would provide funds for research using stem cells procured from embryos stored at in vitro fertilization clinics. Extracting stem cells from embryos destroys the days-old human beings.

Bush is expected to veto the measure June 20.

Stem cells are the body’s master cells that can develop into tissues and other cells, providing hope for the treatment of numerous afflictions. Embryonic research not only has failed to treat any diseases in human beings, but it has been plagued by the development of tumors in lab animals.

Unlike research using embryos, extracting stem cells from non-embryonic sources -– such as umbilical cord blood, placentas, fat and bone marrow -– has nearly universal support. Such research has produced treatments for at least 72 ailments, according to Do No Harm, a coalition promoting ethics in research. These include spinal cord injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and sickle cell anemia.

REVERSAL IN PHILLY –- The Philadelphia City Council has had a change of heart and decided to live up to its nickname -– “City of Brotherly Love” — when it comes to unborn babies.

On June 14, the council voted 13-4 to rescind a week-old proclamation declaring Philadelphia a “pro-choice city.” The action marked a five-vote shift from the week before when the council voted 9-8 in favor of the pro-choice statement.

The reversal came after the council was besieged by criticism from Roman Catholic Cardinal Justin Rigali and others for adopting the original proclamation, which was non-binding on the city’s government.

Rigali commended the latest vote.

“The members who supported today’s resolution are to be commended for reflecting carefully upon this issue and showing the courage to revisit it,” Rigali said in a written statement. “I appreciate that Council has considered seriously the sensitivities of all Philadelphians and has rightly voted to take these sensitivities into account.”

For a week, Philadelphia joined a “pro-choice city” campaign that has gained some recruits in California. Councils in Berkeley, Santa Monica and West Hollywood are among those that have approved the pro-choice label for their California cities.