Court Rules California Can’t Force Christian Doctors to Participate in Assisted Suicide

“Plaintiffs have demonstrated they are likely to suffer a violation of a constitutional right absent an injunction,” Judge Aenlle-Rocha wrote.

  • Christian Medical and Dental Associations (CMDA), a cooperation between Christian medical professionals, overcame a major legal battle on Friday when a federal district court ruled the group is not required to participate in California’s new physician-assisted suicide law.
  • One section of S.B. 380, a law signed by California governor Gavin Newsom in Oct 2021 that lowered the waiting period for life-ending drugs from 15 days to just 48 hours, requires non-participating doctors to “document the individual’s date of request for life-ending drugs.”
  • CMDA sued the state, arguing that S.B. 380 would have forced its member participants to do something they morally oppose, as over 90% of the organization’s members “would rather stop practicing medicine” than “be forced to participate in assisted suicide or other practices in violation of their consciences.”
  • U.S. District Judge Fernando L. Aenlle-Rocha sided with CMDA on Friday and ruled that S.B. 380 likely violates the coalition’s members’ free speech rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: “Plaintiffs have demonstrated they are likely to suffer a violation of a constitutional right absent an injunction,” the judge wrote.

Senior counsel Kevin Theriot with Alliance Defending Freedom, who represents CMDA in the case, 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 physician-assisted suicide very clearly would violate their consciences.” “We’re pleased the court followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s [2018] decision in NIFLA v. Becerra that clarified First Amendment protections extend to religious medical professionals,” he added.

  • Back in July, CMDA had argued in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to halt the enforcement of S.B. 380 because it violated its doctor members’ “belief in the sanctity of human life.”
  • Dr. Leslee Cochrane, a full-time hospice physician, declared in the complaint that he had witnessed family members pressure even mentally feeble patients to end their lives prematurely, noting that patients “can have very dramatic changes in disposition once their pain is controlled.”
  • In May 2018, a state trial court ruled the law unconstitutional, but a state appeals court reinstated it the next month and the California State Supreme Court later upheld it, The Washington Times reported.