LEON, Mexico, November 26, 2010 ( – A Mexican archbishop is warning his flock about the potential danger of legislation to create “living wills” for patients in the state of Guanajuato.

The proposed legislation, similar to laws that exist in Anglophone countries, would enable patients to write a “will” that excludes certain treatments if they are terminally ill, a practice that is distinct from euthanasia, notes Archbishop José G. Martín Rábago of Leon, Guanajuato in a recent statement. However, the archbishop continues, such wills are subject to abuse, and can become a pretext for a “disguised euthanasia.”

Distinguishing between “orthotanasia,” which is the practice of withholding extreme treatments from terminally ill patients, and “euthanasia,” which is the act of directly and intentionally killing them, the archbishop warns that “the application of orthotanasia certainly requires very precise medical and juridical elements to avoid abuses, and to prevent it from being converted into a form of disguised euthanasia. This will be the task that will correspond to the legislators, advised by experts on the subject.”

The archbishop expresses his hope that the state legislators will “issue a legal formulation that will be completely respectful of the sacredness of human life and the dignity of people.”

The spokesman for the archdiocese has also expressed strong reservations about the possibility that the new legislation could be abused.

In extreme cases, said Father Jorge Raúl Villegas, “we would be almost talking about suicide, that is to say, whenever I am sick, I sign [a statement] so that according to my desire they won’t give me any treatment and I can die without pain.”