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The National Catholic Bioethics Center
The NCBC Joins the Official Pennsylvania Coalition to Stop Doctor-Prescribed Suicide
© 2020 by The National Catholic Bioethics Center
The NCBC Joins the Official
Pennsylvania Coalition to Stop Doctor-Prescribed Suicide
April 22, 2015
We, The National Catholic Bioethics Center, have joined the Pennsylvania Coalition to Stop Doctor-Prescribed Suicide. The Coalition, which is an alliance of disability rights, healthcare, civil rights, faith-based, and patient advocacy organizations, is dedicated to preventing legalization of Doctor-Prescribed Suicide in the state of Pennsylvania. This legislative year alone, 16 states and the District of Columbia have introduced proposals to legalize Doctor-Prescribed Suicide. Fortunately, these initiatives have failed in six states so far this legislative year. The misinformation, however, continues to flow into the media about why persons “need” this option. The data support that the reasons for requesting Doctor-Prescribed Suicide have more to do with fear of loss of autonomy, enjoyment in activities of living, and dignity (which a person should never be made to feel, no matter how dependent on others) than the false representations presented by advocates of Doctor-Prescribed Suicide. In fact, data from the Oregon Public Health Division, which gathers statistics for the total period in which Doctor-Prescribed Suicide has been legal in that state (since 1998) indicate that financial concerns and pain are the lowest two reasons, in frequency, for requesting Doctor-Prescribed Suicide (See: https://public.health.oregon.gov/ProviderPartnerResources/EvaluationResearch/
In recent years three states have legalized Doctor-Prescribed Suicide (Oregon, Washington, and Vermont), and another two states have court decisions removing criminal penalties for physician participation (Montana, and one county in New Mexico with that decision under appeal).
The Catholic Church, sponsor of the largest number of non-governmental health care agencies in the United States, has a rich tradition concerning our obligation to walk with others as they journey toward death, and not to abandon them to the hopeless alternative of Doctor-Prescribed Suicide. The potential abuses of the vulnerable, including the elderly and those with disabilities are real. Please become informed through the Coalition’s website, which also provides you with a mechanism to have your voice heard by your own legislator: www.noassistedsuicidepa.org. Another excellent resource is that of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference:
For those in other states, contact your State Catholic Conference accessed through: http://www.nasccd.org.
As Pope Emeritus Benedict has stated in the powerful encyclical Spe Salvi (In Hope We Are Saved, 2007 ):
"The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to
suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for
society. A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of
helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through 'com-passion'
is a cruel and inhuman society. (II, 38.)"