Not exactly perfect timing is it?
Once again a physician-assisted suicide bill is being sponsored and voted on in the Jersey legislature. The Diocese of Trenton has assembled some resources which they have asked to be made available to parishioners through social media.
The most important thing for Catholics to do is become informed about the dangers of physician-assisted suicide and then inform our elected officials of our opposition to what is being called "state sanctioned suicide."
Having worked against and spoken out against physician assisted suicide since the 90's, I've seen the political and social landscape truly shift from those days.
Some arguments against it have become weaker
More states have passed physician-assisted suicide, falsely allaying fears that legalizing assisted dying will open the floodgates of death by medication. The use of the slippery-slope argument against aid in dying has never been too effective even though more evidence has accumulated from the experience of European nations how quickly the initial restrictions placed on the practice are loosened.
More testimony has been sought from speakers afflicted with illness which has made them consider and then reject assisted dying for themselves. While their personal testimony is poignant, proponents of aid in dying acknowledge, then dismiss it, asserting that the "right" to assisted dying should be offered to those who choose it. I remember a seminar at which Christopher Reeve's mother speaking with tears in her eyes advocated the unrestricted use of human embryos for medical research, "Don't take away hope." The dramatic YouTube video of the fourteen year old Wisconsin girl who pleaded successfully to be allowed to die was credited with helping pass California's aid in dying legislation. The use of personal testimony is emotionally powerful on either side of the argument. In my view, it should be used sparingly, if at all.
So many more challenges have been brought to any moral absolute with dramatic success under the Obama administration. Gender, biology and choice have been blended into a spectrum. The right of an individual to choose almost anything has been broadened, except the right to object to policies which silence those espousing traditional Christian values.
Some arguments against aid in dying have become even more cogent
Health care has become more controlled by private and government insurers that are becoming reluctant to pay for life-prolonging treatment deemed futile or not cost-effective. This should alarm everyone. While prudent decisions must be made, they shouldn't be made by a board or trustees, or a government bureaucrat. The patient, the family, their physicians and caregivers should also be involved in clinical care decisions and making public policy.
An increasing number of physicians have become comfortable with the idea of offering physician assisted suicide to their patients. Some of them put their obligation to serve their patient's needs and wishes above their own personal judgement or without recourse to any other source of moral or legal obligation. While many physicians feel the intrinsic ethics of medical practice forbid physician assisted dying, some embrace it as part of the obligation they owe to their patients who choose it. Many people no longer fear that doctors can help them to die.
The Church's teaches that extra-ordinary medical care may be refused or discontinued if already begun. This along with priority for treating pain, even if the pain medication brings deleterious effects-including hastening death allows for merciful and dignified care near the end of life without recourse to physician-assisted suicide.
Article in The Monitor: Doctors, patients, testify against N.J. bill they call 'state-sanctioned suicide'