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Insights: Brown Signs Assisted-Suicide Law, Pope and Lincoln

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October 9, 2015

“This is not Compassion” -
California Places Vulnerable at Risk with Assisted Suicide

(En Español) The Bishops of California, have issued the following statement after Governor Brown signed ABx2-15 (Eggman) the End-of-Life Option Act:

“The physician-assisted suicide legislation (ABx2-15) signed today by Governor Brown makes it legal to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs to assist terminally ill patients to take their own life.  This law stands in direct contradiction to providing compassionate, quality care for those facing a terminal illness.

“All 48 Catholic hospitals in California provide excellent palliative care services as all medical facilities for terminally ill patients should but often do not.  As Catholic Bishops in California we join hands with the disability rights groups, physicians, other health care professionals, and advocates for the elderly in opposing physician-assisted suicide as the wrong way to advance the human dignity for those facing a terminal illness.

“Pope Francis has warned us about our "throw away culture."  Have we become so callous in protecting the sacredness of life that we easily approve of a physician handing over a lethal dose of drugs to someone to end their life at their most vulnerable moment when they most need to be cared for with love and attention?

“We are particularly disappointed that the very real concerns and risks posed to our brothers and sisters in vulnerable communities of the disabled and elderly have been consistently ignored by our state’s elected officials.  In a health care system grappling with constantly escalating costs, the elderly and disabled are in great peril now that assisted suicide has become legal.  Application of such a law elsewhere shows that the option to offer the low-cost alternative of lethal drugs instead of proper medical care is a temptation not long resisted.

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Abraham Lincoln and His Legacy as “The Guardian of Liberty”

This is the first in a series of four articles examining Pope Francis’ speech to the U.S. Congress in which he highlighted American values as exemplified by four great Americans:

Pope Francis called Lincoln "the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that this nation, under God, might have a new birth of freedom."  "Liberty" in this context can be taken quite literally, as Lincoln preserved the union through a bloody civil war fought largely over the question of slavery and, with his signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, freed over three million slaves from their bondage with the stroke of a pen.

However, "liberty" or "freedom" in the Catholic context also connotes the ability to initiate and control one's own actions for the greater good – or the greatest good, which is perfection in God.  "There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just.  The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to the slavery of sin."  (CCC 1733).

Perhaps more than any figure in American history, Lincoln stands for the idea that true public service demands that an individual pursue the public good rather than their own personal ends, even to the point of sacrificing themselves for the higher good (as Lincoln ultimately did when he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on Good Friday, April 14, 1865).

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Thank You for Being a Voice for Life & Dignity!

The California Catholic Conference cannot thank you enough for your efforts to defeat the physician-assisted suicide bill in California  The response of Catholic Legislative Network members to our Action Alerts had been truly outstanding and encouraging.  Tens of thousands of you became active and engaged.  You are truly a voice for life and dignity in California.

The Conference has been proud to work with the coalition, Californians Against Assisted Suicide (CAAS), who pointed out that supporters of assisted suicide poured millions of dollars into multiple lobbying firms to achieve a 15 to 1 advantage in dollars spent.  In spite of that, members of the coalition created the largest bi-partisan opposition to the assisted-suicide legalization in the U.S., said CAAS.

Legislative Wrap-Up: Part One

The Governor still has time to sign or veto many other bills.  The most important one we are tracking is AB 775, the Reproductive FACT Act, which will discriminate against pro-life pregnancy centers.  (Take Action here.)

We have highlights of the major bills and their status summarized here.  They are categorized by topic areas – Reverence for Life, Family and Marriage, Human Dignity, Faith in the Public Square, Restorative Justice, Education and Immigration.  If you would like to see a list of all the bills followed by the California Catholic Conference, click here.

Refugee Crisis: What you can do.

As the refugee and migrant crisis grows in Europe, many people and parishes have asked what they can do to help. Here are seven tangible actions Catholic Relief Services recommends.


Restore Justice offers compassion, resources and empowerment to anyone who has been impacted by crime.


October 9, 2015
Vol. 8, No. 36

En Español