Assisted suicide legislation threatens lives of poor and vulnerable

Proposed "medical treatment" redefines value of life

There is a serious error in thinking that dignity comes from a person's usefulness and independence and one loses it by becoming dependent or a burden on the young, able and healthy.

Making physician-assisted suicide a "medical treatment" is a serious threat to how people understand the value of human life and literally will put pressure on the poor and most vulnerable to end their lives early. What is being sold today as a "right to die" can easily become a responsibility to die.

The essential quality that characterizes every human creature [is his] being created in the image and likeness of the Creator himself. This level of dignity and quality forms a constitutive part of the human being, it remains throughout life, from the first instant of his conception until natural death. Therefore, man must be recognized and respected in every condition of health, illness or disability.

John Paul the Great

Proponents argue that choosing one's own death allows a dying person to preserve her dignity. A person's dignity does not come from within. Dignity comes from the fact that "the human being is single, unique, and unrepeatable, someone thought of and chosen from eternity, someone called and identified by name", as John Paul the Great so eloquently said.

There is a serious error in thinking that dignity comes from a person's usefulness and independence and one loses it by becoming dependent or a burden on the young, able and healthy. That attitude alone can lead to isolation and depression for the elderly, infirm and disabled at a critical time of life when they need love and care.

The poor and vulnerable will be at greatest risk.

Remember, it is less expensive to prescribe a lethal drug than to pay for patient care. Physician-assisted suicide would save money for insurance companies and HMOs.

Typical assisted suicide legislation provide little or no safeguards. They do not require a psychiatric evaluation of the patient requesting "assisted suicide", yet depression is the most common reason for seeking death.They do not require that the lethal drugs be self-administered leading to possible coercion and abuse.

If physician-assisted suicide is legal, it will lead people to believe it is moral and even expected.

SOCIAL TEACHINGS

Declaration on Euthanasia - Vatican
Lenten Message 2005, Reflection on Threats to the Elderly - Pope John Paul II
Questions about Medically Assisted Nutrition and Hydration U.S. Bishops



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