Australian Catholic bishops warned against the legalization of assisted suicide last week in a letter to the state of Victoria.
“Euthanasia and assisted suicide are the opposite of care and represent the abandonment of the sick and the suffering, of older and dying persons,” the bishops said in the April 18 letter, according to the Catholic News Agency.
Four Catholic bishops who serve in dioceses in Victoria signed the letter, urging people to pray and oppose a new bill to legalize the life-destroying procedure.
Victoria lawmakers currently are considering a bill to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in their state, according to the report. Pro-life leaders say New South Wales legislators also may consider a euthanasia bill this year.
Lawmakers in Victoria aim to allow “assisted dying,” meaning both euthanasia and assisted suicide, in limited circumstances.
In 2016 a parliamentary committee recommended that Victoria advance towards legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia. The Government endorsed the proposal and at present there is a consultation to determine how such laws can be made “safe.”
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The bishops countered: “We should be clear – there is no safe way to kill people or to help them to their own suicide.” The commandment “You Shall Not Kill” is central to both biblical and civil law, they said, encouraging the Catholic faithful and others to pray and act against the bill.
In response, the bishops wrote: “… to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide would threaten the lives of vulnerable people. Such a law would serve to exploit the vulnerability of those people, exposing them to further risk.”
They added: “We ask Victorians to continue to love and care for those who are sick and suffering rather than abandoning them to euthanasia or supporting them to suicide. Our ability to care says much about the strength of our society.”
Religious groups are not the only ones opposed to assisted suicide and euthanasia. Many disability rights groups, medical groups, pro-life organizations and others strongly oppose the deadly procedures.
People with special needs and the elderly already are vulnerable to abuse, and legalized assisted suicide would put them at greater risk. Whether by coercion or abuse, individuals may be encouraged to kill themselves rather than seek medical treatments.
Money also can be a big influence on assisted suicide.
LifeNews has reported several cases of people in the United States who were denied medical treatment coverage by their insurance and offered assisted suicide instead. Five U.S. states and Washington, D.C. now allow doctor-prescribed suicide.
Most recently, Stephanie Packer, a California wife and mother of four who was diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer, said her insurance company refused to cover the cost of her medical treatment.
When Packer asked her insurance company if it would cover doctor-prescribed suicide, the company told her, “Yes, we do provide that to our patients, and you would only have to pay $1.20 for the medication.”
Low-income patients on the Oregon Health Plan reported similar experiences.
In another situation, Kathryn Judson, an Oregon wife and caregiver to her husband, said she was outraged when her husband’s doctor encouraged him to consider assisted suicide while she was out of the room.
Without consulting her, the doctor told her husband, “’Think of what it will spare your wife, we need to think of her,’” Judson recalled in a letter to the editor of the Hawaii Free Press.
Judson said her husband lived for five more years – valuable time that their family would have lost if he had listened to the doctor’s advice.