This week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that legalizes assisted suicide, making it the fourth state in the country to accept the dangerous practice, following Oregon, Washington and Vermont. In a letter to the California General Assembly, Gov. Brown said he signed the legislation because he would not want to live his final days in pain caused by a terminal disease.
He said, “The crux of the matter is whether the State of California should continue to make it a crime for a dying person to end his life, not matter how great his pain or suffering.”
However, pro-life activists, religious leaders and national pro-life and disabled rights organizations are outraged by his decision and have already vowed to try and overturn the law. For example, today the chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, issued a statement criticizing Gov. Brown’s decision.
Cardinal O’Malley said, “Governor Brown’s decision this week to sign a bill legalizing doctor-assisted suicide in California is a great tragedy for human life. As a result, in all the West coast states, seriously ill patients suffering from depression and suicidal feelings will receive lethal drugs, instead of genuine care to help alleviate that suffering. The tragedy here is compounded by confusion among those who supported this law.
He continued, “For example, Governor Brown said he signed this law because it should not be a crime for a dying person in pain to end his life. But suicide itself is a tragedy, not a crime. The crime is for people in authority such as physicians to facilitate the deliberate deaths of other, more vulnerable people. That crime will now be permitted in California. And where such “assistance” is legal, most people taking the lethal drugs do so not because of pain but because they feel they are helpless and a “burden” on others.”
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Additionally, at Catholic Vote, Ryan Mayer addressed the fact that Gov. Brown claims to be Catholic yet signed a bill that legalizes a practice that is directly against his faith. He wrote, “Governor Brown claims to be a Catholic. In the letter to the Assembly, Brown wrote that he “considered the theological and religious perspectives that any deliberate shortening of one’s life is sinful. Considered, perhaps, but then ignored?
But we need not invoke religion to see that this bill presents a serious threat to the vulnerable, the elderly, the depressed, and others who have been convinced that they ought not become a burden to their loved ones.”
Unfortunately, it seems like Gov. Brown sided with the pro-death lobby and ignored all the information about palliative and hospice care options for those with terminal diseases. As LifeNews previously reported, in June, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said that California’s physician-assisted legislation (SB 128) is the wrong response to their public health crisis and called it a “failure of moral imagination.”
Archbishop Gomez explained, “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.”
ACTION: Contact Governor Jerry Brown here to complain about him signing the bill to legalize assisted suicide.
“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.