FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 16, 2011
Contact Janice L. Benton
202-529-2933 (Washington, DC office)
(Bellevue, WA) On Thursday, June 16, 2011, at their Spring General Assembly in Seattle, the U.S. Catholic bishops voted on a statement outlining the Church’s moral objections to physician-assisted suicide. The statement, To Live Each Day with Dignity, details longstanding Church teaching on the life and dignity of the human person, and reflects on how this teaching relates to people with terminal illness, chronic conditions, and disabilities.
The National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) was invited by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to provide comments on the draft statement. NCPD Episcopal Moderator Cardinal Daniel DiNardo chairs the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities that proposed the draft to the full body of bishops. Notes Janice L. Benton, NCPD executive director, “Physician-assisted suicide is a clear threat to the lives of people with disabilities, as well as those with terminal illness. It is yet another example of society’s willingness to define a class of people as expendable, worthy of death by legally sanctioned means. We applaud the U.S. Catholic bishops for their statement which defends the dignity of every human life, and offers a true understanding of compassion and choice. NCPD joins with the bishops in rejecting the assertions of the assisted suicide movement. Assisted suicide does not represent a real ‘choice’ and does not offer compassionate care for persons who in fact require able medical support.”
NCPD Board Chair, Stephen L. Mikochik, J.D., a Professor of Law at Temple University, contends that these state efforts to legalize physician-assisted suicide serve to protect doctors from liability without any oversight to ensure the patient take the drug voluntarily. Marie Hilliard, J.C.L., Ph.D. R.N., Chair of the NCPD Ethics Committee, who also is the Director of Bioethics and Public Policy for the National Catholic Bioethics Center, explains, “The real tragedy of physician-assisted suicide is the message it sends to persons facing serious illness or disability—that their lives are not worth living. And when this message is given by the very professionals who are responsible for the wellbeing of all entrusted to their care, the impact on the health care profession and society is catastrophic. We welcome this prophetic document, which calls for true compassion for those facing serious illnesses, chronic diseases and disabilities, that is, a call to help them to live each day with dignity.”