Pope Francis Condemns Assisted Suicide: “Life is a Right, Not Death”

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Feb 15, 2022   |   6:14PM   |   The Vatican

Pope Francis condemned another growing threat to the right to life last week when he described assisted suicide as an “unacceptable deviation” of medicine.

On Feb. 9, the pope said palliative care, not killing, is the answer to helping people suffering from terminal illnesses, Reuters reports.

“But we have to be careful to not confuse this help with unacceptable deviations that lead to killing,” Pope Francis told his general audience. “We must accompany death, not provoke death or help any kind of suicide.”

The Catholic News Agency translated the pope’s words differently, quoting him as saying, “However, we must be careful not to confuse this help with unacceptable drifts towards euthanasia.”

Pope Francis also emphasized the need to care for the most vulnerable in society.

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“I would point out that the right to care and treatment for all must always be prioritized, so that the weakest, particularly the elderly and the sick, are never discarded. Indeed, life is a right, not death, which must be welcomed, not administered. And this ethical principle applies to everyone, not just Christians or believers,” he said, according to CNA.

The pope’s comments came as the Italian Parliament began debating a bill to legalize assisted suicide.

According to Reuters:

In 2019, Italy’s Constitutional Court partially decriminalised assisted suicide under certain conditions if local health authorities and an ethics board approved. But the court also said parliament should pass a law regulating it.

The draft of the law that parliament was due to start discussing on [Feb. 9] would allow terminally ill patients to seek assisted suicide through the national health system. It would also protect doctors from any legal suits against them.

Last fall, Pope Francis expressed similar views when he urged medical professionals to treat every person with care and dignity, emphasizing that “there are no lives that are unworthy.”

“There are no lives that are unworthy or to be discarded because they do not respond to the criterion of utility or to the demands of profit,” he said at the Vatican. “We are experiencing a true throwaway culture; this is a bit like the air we breathe and we must react against this throwaway culture.”

Along with religious and pro-life groups, many medical and disability rights organizations also strongly oppose assisted suicide and euthanasia.

In the United States, nine states and Washington, D.C. have legalized assisted suicide. Oregon was the first in 1997, and, since then, hundreds of people have been killed in that state alone.