On June 16 the Catholic bishops of the United States approved their first-ever policy statement focused on physician-assisted suicide, To Live Each Day with Dignity. This prompted a response from the group formerly known as the Hemlock Society, which now goes by the euphemism “Compassion & Choices” (C&C).
Reverence for Life
We hold life sacred from conception to natural death. We support policies and services that assist pregnant women to make life-affirming choices. We advocate for restrictions on the practice and public funding of abortion. We support stem cell research that does not destroy or clone human embryos. We support patient-focused, quality end-of-life care and oppose legalizing assisted suicide. We oppose the use of the death penalty.
In November 2009, the U.S. bishops issued the fifth edition of their Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs).
A 45-page PowerPoint that teaches about public policy, reviews the history of suicide/euthanasia, outlines Church teaching, reviews the current state of the law, and discusses current efforts in California to block the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. (Download 1.3 Mb)
Vice President, Corporate Ethics, Daughters of Charity Health System
Since the 1980s, there have been a number of high profile cases involving persons receiving medically assisted nutrition and hydration (MANH), e.g., Claire Conroy, Paul Brophy, Nancy Cruzan, Hugh Finn, and Terri Schiavo. The provision of nutrition and hydration through the use of various medical interventions, sometimes referred to as “tube feeding,” is one of the most complex and controversial issues in contemporary bioethics.
On June 9, 2016, in what the Bishops of California have called a “travesty of compassion,” physicians in California will legally be allowed to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs to a patient.
Despite bi-partisan opposition and being defeated in the regular legislative session, the End-of-Life Option Act was passed in a special, abbreviated session with limited hearings and altered committee membership.
The Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN) has announced a new publication presenting the Catholic Church’s teaching on the death penalty and restorative justice. Entitled Renewing a Culture of Life: The Death Penalty, Restorative Justice, and Catholic Social Teaching, the booklet was produced by CMN in close collaboration with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Peace, Justice & Human Development.
Debate on physician-assisted suicide (PAS) has once again surfaced following the tragic suicide of Brittany Maynard. But, as is usually the case, media coverage tends to misstate Catholic teaching on end-of-life issues and some proponents deliberately twist our teachings to confuse the debate.
Proponents continue to focus on emotional elements and ignore the very significant and dangerous policy implications of PAS. But the discussion must be much deeper and the potential consequences for the elderly, disabled and disenfranchised members of society from PAS made much clearer.