Sunday, October 22, 2017
Oct 19, 2017
For Respect Life Month this October, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Conference chose the theme “Be Not Afraid”, a very timely reminder in these days of so much violence and war. You can read all of the short essays for this month at www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities:
- How to Build a Culture of Life,
- Catholic Considerations for Our Earthly Passing,
- What to Do When a Friend Is Considering Abortion,
- Understanding Conscience,
- Death Penalty: Catholic Q & A,
- Top Reasons to Oppose Assisted Suicide
These are the primary topics the bishops wish to bring to our attention, below please find an essay, based on a New York State case, on why we oppose physician assisted suicide. I hope you find this good for your reflection.
Let us continue to pray for peace and for the end of terrorism in our world!
In peace and courage,
Respect Life Month
Opposition to Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Struggle Continues
Recently, the New York State Court of Appeals rejected the argument that our State Constitution already protects the right to physician-assisted suicide (PAS). This is a great victory for life!
However, the push to legalize PAS will continue in the upcoming legislative session in Albany. Please call your state legislators to ask them to oppose the legalization of PAS in New York State. Go to www.nyassembly.gov and www.nysenate.gov to find your Assembly member and State Senator.
Here are some of the Top Reasons to Oppose Assisted Suicide:
A DEADLY MIX WITH OUR PROFIT-DRIVEN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM Some patients in Oregon and California have received word that their health insurance will pay for assisted suicide but will not pay for treatment that may sustain their lives.
PUTS VULNERABLE PERSONS AT RISK OF ABUSE AND COERCION Once lethal drugs have been prescribed, assisted suicide laws have no requirements for assessing the patient’s consent, competency, or voluntariness. Assisted suicide laws often allow one of the two witnesses to the request for lethal drugs to be an heir to the patient’s estate. Therefore, an heir or friends of the heir can encourage or pressure the patient to request lethal drugs and then be a witness to the request.
DANGEROUSLY BROAD DEFINITION OF TERMINAL ILLNESS Assisted suicide laws typically appear to limit eligibility to terminally ill patients who are expected to die within six months but don’t distinguish between persons who will die within six months with treatment and those who will die within six months without treatment. This means that patients with treatable diseases (like diabetes or chronic respiratory or cardiac disease) and patients with disabilities requiring ventilator support are all eligible for lethal drugs because they would die within six months without the treatment they would normally receive.
PAIN NOT THE PRIMARY ISSUE Untreated pain is not among the top reasons for taking lethal drugs. Per official annual state reports, in 2016, 90% of Oregon patients seeking lethal drugs said they were doing so because they were “less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable” and were “losing autonomy,” and 49% cited being a “burden” on family, friends or caregivers. And in Washington, 52% cited being a “burden” as a reason, while only 35% cited a concern about pain.
NO PSYCHIATRIC EVALUATION OR TREATMENT REQUIRED Despite medical literature showing that nearly 95% of those who commit suicide had a diagnosable psychiatric illness (usually treatable depression) in the months preceding suicide, the prescribing doctor and the doctor he or she selects to give a second opinion are both free to decide whether to refer suicidal patients for any psychological counseling. Per Oregon’s official annual report, from 2013-2016 less than 4% of patients who died under its assisted suicide law had been referred for counseling to check for “impaired judgment."