SACRAMENTO, California, October 7, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – California's Catholic bishops have condemned the state's new assisted suicide law, saying that it shows that concern for the state's vulnerable is being disregarded by California's elected officials.
“This law stands in direct contradiction to providing compassionate, quality care for those facing a terminal illness,” the bishops said in a statement through the California Catholic Conference. “For vulnerable people, this isn't compassion.”
“There's nothing in this law that supports or promotes the common good,” they stated. “This bill does nothing to validate the lives of the vulnerable. If anything, this bill says just the opposite and only serves to increase their emotional burden.”
California's bishops also said the bill would “adversely affect the poor” and put the elderly and disabled “in great peril.”
Governor Jerry Brown signed the law on Tuesday, allowing doctors to prescribe drugs to terminally ill patients that will enable them to kill themselves.
Writing his justification for passing AB2X-15 in a statement, Brown said he had “carefully read the thoughtful opposition materials presented by a number of doctors, religious leaders and those who champion disability rights.”
“I have considered the theological and religious perspectives that any deliberate shortening of one's life is sinful,” said Brown, a Catholic.
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He said he also took into account “heartfelt pleas” in support of the measure from Brittany Maynard's family and Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The Catholic bishops pointed out in their statement that disregard for human life near its end is not consistent with upholding its God-given dignity, quoting the pope.
“Pope Francis has warned us about our 'throw away culture,'” they wrote. “Have we become so callous in protecting the sacredness of life that we easily approve of a physician handing over a lethal dose of drugs to someone to end their life at their most vulnerable moment when they most need to be cared for with love and attention?”
The bishops pointed out that the state's Catholic hospitals “provide excellent palliative care services” to the terminally ill, often in contrast to other medical facilities.
“As Catholic Bishops in California we join hands with the disability rights groups, physicians, other health care professionals, and advocates for the elderly in opposing physician-assisted suicide as the wrong way to advance the human dignity for those facing a terminal illness,” they said.
The prelates also expressed concern that in a health care system experiencing rapidly escalating costs, “the elderly and disabled are in great peril” since “the option to offer the low-cost alternative of lethal drugs instead of proper medical care is a temptation not long resisted.”
The bishops also contested the manner the bill was enacted, arguing that it ended up on Brown's desk without successfully getting out of committee in the normal legislative process.
The bishops said they would stand with the coalition that had fought the assisted suicide law in continued efforts to protect the most vulnerable Californians.
The law brings California alongside Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington as states with legalized physician-assisted suicide.