Catholic Bishop Rails Against Assisted Suicide, Calls It a “Failure of Moral Imagination”

State   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Jun 26, 2015   |   6:26PM   |   Sacramento, CA

In California, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez is calling physician-assisted legislation (SB 128) the wrong response to their public health crisis. The Catholic Herald reports that Archbishop Gomez said, “The compassion that doctor-assisted suicide offers is hollow. And this legislation has dangerous implications for our state, especially for the poor and vulnerable.”

He added: “There is no denying that in California and nationwide we face a public health crisis in the way we treat patients who are terminally ill and at the end of life. But the answer to fear and a broken system is to fix the system and address the fears. It is not to kill the one who is afraid and suffering.”

“The debate over doctor-assisted suicide is a distraction that is preventing us from confronting the real issues that we face in public health,” citing Americans’ longer lives and the growing incidence of such age-related illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s,” he continued.

As LifeNews previously reported, the California Senate passed the bill on June 4th with a 23-14 vote and it’s currently awaiting state assembly consideration. If passed, California’s assisted suicide bill would require doctors to lie about the cause of death in assisted suicide. A board member from the Disabilities Rights Education & Defense Fund Inc., Ann Cupolo Freeman, explained the other problems with the legislation.

Freeman said, “No assisted-suicide ‘safeguard’ can ever protect against coercion. In this era of managed care, will those living with a disability and the seriously ill be more likely offered lethal prescriptions in place of medical treatment? A prescription for 100 Seconal tablets costs far less than most medical treatments, especially considering the cost of long-term care for someone living with a disability.”

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She continued, “There would be no one there to know whether or not a patient changes her mind or decides that she isn’t ready to die. There would be no one there to know if the individual has taken the pills on her own or if someone else put the lethal dose in a feeding tube.”

As LifeNews previously reported, in 2014, 29-year-old cancer patient Brittany Maynard received national attention after she announced her plans to kill herself under Oregon’s assisted suicide law. Maynard found out she had stage II glioblastoma multiforme and had up to ten years to live. However, after she had surgery, doctors found out that she had the most deadly form of brain cancer, stage IV glioblastoma multiforme. The cancer usually kills its victims in a matter of months.

Oregon is one of five states, along with New Mexico, Montana, Washington, and Vermont that allow assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act passed in 1997 and has allowed for 1,173 prescriptions, with 752 deaths resulting from access of the medication.

After Brittany’s diagnosis, she decided that she wanted to move from her California home to Oregon so that she could have access to the “death with dignity” prescription. Tragically, on November 2nd she took her own life with a lethal dose of phenobarbital.

Although California Governor Jerry Brown has reportedly not taken a position on the bill, his aids said he talked with Maynard before she committed suicide. After SB 128 passed through the California Senate, Jonathan Keller of the California Family Council said the following about the dangerous legislation: “Despite the claims from the bill’s authors that SB 128 “protects patients,” multiple studies and stories have shown the dangers of physician-assisted suicide. From Oregon and Washington to Canada and the Netherlands, patient abuse is rampant. And once a society legitimizes voluntary suicide, it often progresses to involuntary euthanasia.”