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End of Life
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- Death With Dignity and the Gift of Palliative Care
- USCCB Physcian-Assisted Suicide Page
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End of Life: Legal and Policy Issues
If those who are dying are embraced by their family and their community, they will not seek death, but will live their last days well, and then accept death when it comes.
This page contains information on legal and policy matters.
For Catholic teaching on end-fo-life jump to
On March 25, in a packed hearing room at the state Capitol, the Senate Health Committee voted 6 to 2 in favor of SB 128, California’s doctor-prescribed suicide bill. Democrats voted in favor, with the two Republicans opposed. Senator Richard Pan, a Democrat from Sacramento and a physician, abstained.
"Today's action by the Senate Health Committee to advance SB 128 is sad and disappointing,” said Edward “Ned” Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference.
Ned Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, released the following statement today following a state Senate committee vote approving SB 128 (Wolk) a proposed law legalizing physician assisted suicide. The bill must still be considered by the Senate Judiciary and Appropriations Committees before it reaches the full Senate.
"Today's action by the Senate Health Committee to advance SB 128 is sad and disappointing.
Paralyzed from the neck down, confined to a wheelchair, Ed Roberts could move only two fingers. A breathing tube draped from his mouth, Roberts slept in an iron lung.
For many who advocate assisted suicide, the challenges of Roberts’ life made him eligible for ending that life early. Instead, Roberts lived a life devoted to promoting the rights and abilities of himself and others.
Robert fought to attend the University of California after it said he couldn’t because of his disability, earning his bachelor’s degree, then his masters.
Dying is just that, an art! According to leading experts in the newly formed medical specialty of palliative care, there is definitely an art to dying, a way to die well. This art, when practiced while alive and well, enables a patient to seamlessly, effortlessly, and spiritually make the transition to the next part of his or her journey.
“Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely ever to go back in again,” Dutch doctor Theo Boer warned recently in Britain, where Parliament is debating its first assisted suicide.
“Don’t do it, Britain! Euthanasia is on the way to become a ‘default’ mode of dying for cancer patients,” he continued. Boer was an early advocate for assisted suicide, but is now strongly opposed.
"Dying is one of the most important moments in our lives. Like all important moments, it deserves thoughtful preparation.” (Fr. Lawrence Reilly, Ethicist and Theologian)
The end of life can be a time of spiritual and emotional growth. But with the onset of technological advances, patients and families may find themselves dealing with complicated treatment plans instead of addressing those spiritual questions.
Fortunately, new options on the care and comfort of people near the end of life have paralleled the emergence of technical advances.
In 2002 the Netherlands implemented a law giving individuals the right to end their own life with a doctor’s approval when they are suffering unbearably. Neighboring Belgium did the same.
To reassure the skeptical, advocates insisted that physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia would be rare.
But the reality since it became legal has been far different in the two countries. Most obvious is the reality that the number of people dying with medical assistance is rising rapidly and it only shows signs of continuing to increase.
California lawmakers are being asked to create a right to die in new legislation proposed this week. SB 128, by Senators Monning (D-Monterey) and Wolk (D-Napa), attempts to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide in the Golden State.