Most people, regardless of religious affiliation, know suicide is a terrible tragedy, one a compassionate society should work to prevent. They realize that allowing doctors to prescribe the means for their patients to kill themselves is a corruption of the healing art. For those of us who are Catholic Christians we further understand that committing suicide is a grave offence again love of self. It breaks the bonds of love with others and with God. Assisting someone to perform the grave offence of suicide is a sin.
These stark thoughts are not the sort of lead paragraph I usually write for my weekly: From the Pastor’s Desk. However, this coming Friday, Feb. 15th, a proposed law will be introduced in the Maryland General Assembly that would make it legal to assist suicide. Any legislation with this intention, even in restricted circumstance, is poor law as it attacks the nature of society, it weakens support for the vulnerable and it opens the door to euthanasia.
Why should you and I oppose this and similar legislation? Because:
† to allow for assistance of a suicide breaks the social contract. If people are not cherished by society for who they are, be they disabled, depressed or gravely ill or unborn, then community breaks down and becomes dominated by competition and selfishness;
† such legislation enables those with the responsibility for care, such as health insurers, doctors, local and federal government, to renege on their responsibility to care for individuals. Experience in States that have introduced assisted suicide legislation points to the fact those with responsibility can too easily hide behind the idea they have given the individual a ‘solution’;
† Such a law will eat away at the self-worth of the sick and vulnerable. If society supports a physically healthy person who tries to commit suicide, as we do and should do, even committing some people to psychiatric care, while at the same time assisting a person to commit suicide if they are gravely ill, then we have two standards at play. The conclusion for the vulnerable person is that he or she should take themselves away;
† There is a great threat, seen in some European countries, that a law to assist suicide soon morphs into legal permission for medical personal solely to decide the fate of a person, that is euthanasia.
I ask every member of the St. Joseph Community who has a vote to immediately approach their senator and representative to ask them to oppose this legislation and legislate better ways to support the terminally ill.
God offers love to all people. God also calls all of us to justice. A false compassion that suggests we can assist someone to commit suicide is a flagrant rejection of God’s law as it is an injustice to the person who is sick. I invite our parish community to offer a clear message on these points to all who will listen, including our public representatives.
Fr. Neville O’Donohue S.M.
Please let your state representatives know that you oppose these bills.
To find the names and contact information of your representatives, please click here.