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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 

Embracing Our Dying

February 3, 2015 End of Life: Legal and Policy Issues, Reverence for Life

“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.

January 28, 2015 End of Life: Legal and Policy Issues, Reverence for Life

"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.

January 28, 2015 End of Life: Legal and Policy Issues, Reverence for Life

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.

January 23, 2015 End of Life: Legal and Policy Issues, Reverence for Life

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.

November 7, 2014 End of Life: Legal and Policy Issues, Reverence for Life

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.

April 25, 2014 End of Life: Legal and Policy Issues, Reverence for Life

Recently, the SFWire, an online news service, ran a brief story about an "empowerment luncheon designed to raise funds and awareness for patients' rights and end-of-life decision making," hosted by Compassion & Choices, at theSt. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Behind the slick presentation, however, lies a more ominous motive -- legalizing Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) in California

May 21, 2013 End of Life: Legal and Policy Issues, Reverence for Life

Sadly, on May 20, 2012, Vermont became the fourth state to legalize physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill individuals—but the first in which it was by passage of legislation. In Oregon and Washington, assisted suicide was approved through public initiatives, and in Montana by judicial decree.

November 23, 2011 End of Life: Legal and Policy Issues, Reverence for Life
By Richard M. Doerflinger

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).

November 23, 2011 End of Life: Legal and Policy Issues, Reverence for Life

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)

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