Statement on USCCB's "Physician Assisted Suicide"

June 20, 2011 09:00 AM

STATEMENT BY JUDIE BROWN ON
THE USCCB’S “TO LIVE EACH DAY WITH DIGNITY: A STATEMENT ON PHYSICIAN ASSISTED SUICIDE”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops pronouncement regarding physician-assisted suicide is heartening.  It is my hope that the USCCB means to denounce any act of commission or omission designed to prematurely end the life of a vulnerable human.  My concern relates to this wording found in the USCCB document:

“Even when a cure is not possible, medicine plays a critical role in providing ‘palliative care’—alleviating pain and other symptoms and meeting basic needs.”

The USCCB explains that palliative care should combine the medical, emotional, and spiritual needs of those facing the end of life.  Indeed, but over the last decade, pro-euthanasia organizations have quietly co-opted the term “palliative care” and twice revised end-of-life care guidelines.

Euthanasia advocates have reordered medical ethics and encourage patients, families, and health care professionals to view killing someone “softly” as an act of love.  For example, these altered guidelines define withholding basic non-oral feeding/hydration as not euthanasia. 

Such semantic scheming begs the USCCB to clear the intentionally muddied waters:  We commend our Catholic leaders to make plain that “palliative care” cannot include a physician’s act of omission or commission in providing basic needs or medical care aimed at prematurely ending life. 

Assisted suicide, whether packaged as euthanasia or by any name, is murder.

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