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Archbishop William Lori of BaltimoreClaire Chretien / LifeSiteNews

Send an urgent message to Canadian legislators urging them to stop expanding assisted suicide

(LifeSiteNews) — The Maryland Catholic Conference has condemned the latest attempt by state legislators to legalize physician assisted-suicide, sometimes referred to by the euphemism of “medical aid-in-dying.”

The fatal procedure involves a doctor giving drugs to a person with a “terminal illness” who has fewer than six months to live so they can kill themselves.

There is a hearing on Thursday, February 8 to consider the legislation. Proponents of people being able to kill themselves have tried for at least 30 years to pass the legislation in the state.

“In 2024, medical advancements and improvements in pain management mean we can make individuals with terminal illnesses comfortable and improve the quality of the remainder of their lives without them feeling the need to reluctantly choose a ‘dignified death,'” the bishops wrote. Signers were Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. and Bishop William Koenig of the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware.

The latter two prelates have churches in Maryland.

Sick individuals need healthcare support, not death, the prelates wrote.

They stated:

We believe our elected officials should work to improve access to the network of care available to Maryland families by increasing access to palliative and hospice care, enhancing end-of-life education and training opportunities for physicians, and ensuring that there is appropriate diagnosis and treatment for depression and other mental and behavioral health issues.

The state senate bill has eight Democratic sponsors and one Republican, state senator Chris West. The House version has no Republican sponsors and 36 Democratic supporters.

It “lacks safeguards” according to the Catholic Conference. “This legislation ignores the reality facing many in such conditions and is woefully lacking in the types of meaningful safeguards that would prevent this unnecessary and drastic option,” the letter stated. “Such safeguards include mandated mental health assessments, reporting requirements, safe disposal of unused medication or prohibitions against expansion of this program.”

The bishops also warned that “vulnerable individuals” will be “at risk.”

“In every state or country where this dangerous policy has been legalized grave abuses and expansion have occurred,” they warned.

A 2017 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops report, for example, found that Oregon’s state insurance plan would pay for assisted suicide but not treatment. There was another similar example cited from California.

A separate 2018 report identified problems outside of the United States with countries that legalized assisted suicide.

Canadian military veterans were also reportedly offered assisted suicide help despite not having a terminal illness. One veteran, who had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, called Veteran Affairs seeking help only to be encouraged to end their life.

The bishops also pointed out the hypocrisy of the situation, since the state is currently trying to combat a high suicide rate.

They wrote:

This legislation puts our most vulnerable brothers and sisters at risk of making decisions for themselves that are manipulated by factors such as disability, mental instability, poverty and isolation. Maryland has accurately recognized that suicide is a serious public health concern in the general population and has offered substantial resources to address the concern. At a time when our nation is grappling with how to address a frighteningly high suicide rate it is deeply illogical for the State of Maryland to be seeking ways to facilitate suicide for those with a terminal illness, all the while claiming such preventable and unnecessary deaths are somehow dignified.

“We urge all people of good will to demand that our lawmakers reject suicide as an end-of-life option and to choose the better, safer path that involves radical solidarity with those facing the end of their earthly journey. Let us choose the path that models true compassion and dignity to those facing end of life decisions and protects the most vulnerable from the deadly proposition of physician assisted suicide.”

Assisted suicide faces bipartisan pushback

There are currently 10 states that are considering legalizing assisted suicide, according to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

“Assisted suicide bills have currently been introduced in 10 U.S. states including: Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin,” the group reported in early January. “We expect several more states to introduce an assisted suicide bill in 2024.”

Currently 10 states and Washington, D.C., allow for assisted suicide, according to Americans United for Life.

Dominican priest Father Thomas Petri previously told LifeSiteNews why Catholics cannot support assisted suicide.

“In no way can any Catholic layman or cleric condone or support a decision to use assisted suicide,” Petri said, after D.C. passed its legislation in 2017.

“Suicide in any form violates both the natural instinct to survive and God’s revealed law that he is the Lord and Creator of life,” Petri told LifeSiteNews. “Therefore, suicide has always been considered not simply a grave evil but an intrinsic evil always and everywhere. No person who values salvation is ever permitted to choose suicide or help another commit suicide no matter what the circumstances are.”

“It is true that we commend the souls of those who commit suicide to the mercy of God as we recognize that people commit suicide for a number of psychological reasons that may inhibit their free choice,” Petri said. “But to assume that God will be merciful, that God will understand one’s reasons for committing suicide, that he will easily excuse one’s suicide to avoid pain, suffering, and cost is the height of a presumption rooted in pride.”

Send an urgent message to Canadian legislators urging them to stop expanding assisted suicide