Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., for example, wrote an essay last week laying out the church’s case against physician-assisted suicide, which the city council there could vote to legalize later this year. Similar legislation is being considered in New York, Colorado and Maryland.
“A widespread mentality has taken hold which believes that, because of their so-called minimal quality of life, it is a moral and social good for people with infirmities, disabilities or serious illnesses to be able to end their lives whenever they want—and that others should help them do it,” the D.C. archbishop wrote.
Allowing doctors to prescribe lethal doses of pain medication to terminally ill patients is legal in just a handful of states, including in California where a new law went into effect earlier this year, but the movement is gaining momentum.
The New York Times offered its support in an editorial published Monday, writing, “There is no compelling reason to deprive [patients] of physician-assisted dying as one option alongside high-quality, innovative palliative care.”
Wuerl acknowledged the pain some patients face, but he said allowing doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs is not the solution. “A truly compassionate and merciful response to the sick and vulnerable is not to confirm these impulses by offering a lethal drug,” he continued.
“Whether it is a terminally ill person or a young person suffering from depression, our response should be to draw them away from the edge, to help the vulnerable among us—regardless of their condition or circumstances—with genuine compassion and give them hope.”