Physician Assisted Suicide
TEN REASONS TO OPPOSE QUESTION 2
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The Archdiocese of Boston has developed an educational website on the Church's teachings on end of life issues, www.SuicideIsAlwaysATragedy.org The archdiocese is also part of a large coalition of groups from other faiths, from the medical community, and from disabilities rights groups that are advocating a no vote on Question 2.
Assisted Suicide Workshops
Saint Jude Parish
Presented by the Luthins
Saint Paul Parish
Presented By Janet Benestad/ Dr. J. Joseph
register contact Ann Cussen at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-779-3644
O’MALLEY TO TWEET EACH DAY UNTIL NOVEMBER 6—Cardinal Sean O’Malley is
asking Catholics in the Archdiocese who are on Twitter to follow @CardinalSean,
and to respond and re-tweet his messages.
YOU HOLD A SIGN AT THE POLLING PLACE?? We
are looking for people who would be willing to hold signs urging voters to Vote
No on Question 2 at local polling places. If
you are interested, please call the rectory at 617-325-1300.
The Massachusetts Catholic Conference will provide the signs and assign a
local polling location.
BALLOTS are available until November 5th. To
have a form mailed to you, you must apply in writing to your city clerk or
election commission. Submit your application early to allow sufficient time for
the ballot to be mailed to you and be returned by the close of polls on election
day. Although the deadline to apply for absentee ballots is noon the day before
the election, we highly recommend submitting the application as soon as
practicable. An application form is available at your local election office or
you may download an application by going to www.sec.state.ma.us
. You may also make application by letter or note which must include your name,
address as registered, ward and precinct (if you know them), address
where you wish the absentee ballot sent, in a primary the party ballot you want,
and your signature.
we encourage you to take as many prayer cards and information cards as you would
like, to share with your family and friends. The cards are at the doors of the
The Archdiocese of Boston has developed an educational website on educational
website on the Church's teachings on end of life issues, www.SuicideIsAlwaysATragedy.org
The archdiocese is also part of a
large coalition of groups from other faiths, from the medical community, and
from disabilities rights groups that are advocating a no vote on Question 2. The
coalition's website is www.StopAssistedSuicide.org
Cardinal Seán O'Malley, OFM Cap.
Archbishop of Boston
For more information on this issue, please visit www.SuicideIsAlwaysATragedy.org or www.StopAssistedSuicide.com
TO PREVENT ASSISTED SUICIDE
O God, Source of all life and hope,
grant us the grace to see You in others,
especially in the poor and vulnerable, the frail and old.
Look kindly on Your sons and daughters
who have grown weak through illness and age:
fill them with the strength of Your Holy Spirit.
Keep them firm in faith and serene in hope,
that they might give us all an example of patience
and joyfully witness to the power of Your love.
We pray for our country and for our Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
that we might continue to protect and defend
the dignity and worth of every human life, created in Your image and likeness.
Assist us as we oppose those who, out of misguided mercy,
advance the cause of doctor-assisted suicide.
Help us to recognize that to die with dignity
is to die in Your loving embrace,
trusting in Your compassionate care for us,
and allowing Your will to be done in us.
Mary, Mother of God, pray for us and help us grow in faith
and trust, so that your words might become ours: “Let it be done to me according to God’s will.”
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Rev. Jonathan M. Gaspar
Archdiocese Of Boston Director Of Divine Worship
REASONS TO OPPOSE QUESTION 2
are many groups opposing the legalization of assisted suicide in the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts and that are urging a "No on Question 2"
vote this Nov. 6. In total, more than 100 reasons to oppose this ballot measure
have been shared with me since we began our educational efforts on this issue.
Some arguments are based on principle, others on prudence, and still others on
process -- and all of them are valid. Today, I want to share with you ten of the
most compelling. In turn, I encourage you to share these reasons with all those
you know between now and Election Day.
(1) Question 2 would legalize assisted suicide; suicide is always a tragedy and never a dignified way to die. For many people, opposition to assisted suicide is based on respect for God's law, "Thou shalt not kill." However, one does not need to be a person of faith to understand the tragedy of suicide. Our society admires suicide prevention organizations like the Samaritans that stand ready to help people in the throes of depression and suicidal thoughts. Their hotlines are staffed with volunteers, always prepared to try to bring solace and help to those suffering from suicidal impulses. There are also heroic first responders who often risk their lives to help stop someone from taking one's own life. Yet, proponents of Question 2 are trying to convince us that assisted suicide at the end of life is not suicide -- they strive to avoid the word suicide -- and rather a compassionate response to the plight of people who have a terminal illness. It is not. Do not be misled by the seductive language of "dignity," "mercy," "compassion" or "aid in dying." True compassion does not put a lethal weapon, in this case a prescription of 100 capsules of Seconal, into the hands of a person to help take his or her life.
(2) Suicide always impacts others beyond the individual that takes his or her life. Proponents of Question 2 assert that "dignity" requires a radical form of autonomy and control in which one should be able to determine the manner and time of one's death. They ignore the profound interconnectedness of our lives and the impact suicide has on family members, colleagues and society in general. Suicide researchers describe the "copycat syndrome" where the publicity of one suicide in a community leads others to contemplate or act on it. Suicide prevention organizations worry that suicides in the general population will increase if society legalizes assisted suicide because it creates the message that suicide is an acceptable and legal "choice" in some situations. As a society, we shouldn't sanction suicide as a response to hardship.
Doctors strongly oppose assisted suicide and Question 2. Organizations of
physicians, including the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) and American
Medical Association (AMA), have argued that assisted suicide would bring about a
massive change in the nature of medical care and the doctor-patient
relationship. Not only will it violate the values and oaths of the medical
profession, but it will destroy trust between patients and doctors because some
patients will see doctors and nurses as possible executioners, rather than as
defenders of life. Doctors worry that cost-containment pressures in health care
will make a prescription for assisted suicide seem attractive for certain
conditions. They fear being coerced to write prescriptions or to make referrals
to "specialists" who barely know the patient but will write an
assisted-suicide prescription. They are also concerned that there is no
requirement that the doctors who write the prescription will have particular
training in terminal diseases or end-of-life care. Doctors from these
organizations believe that the discussion should be about how we can improve
care at the end of our lives, not to improve "options" to help
patients end their lives.
Advocates for the disabled strongly oppose assisted suicide and Question 2. They
point to the lack of adequate safeguards, which could open the door to abuse,
manipulation and coercion. They state that the lack of safeguards could lead to
increased elder abuse, because it allows a witness to the patient's signed
request for assisted suicide to be an heir, beneficiary or possibly exploitative
caretaker. Question 2 even allows proxy requests that allow someone familiar
with the mode of communication of a terminally-ill person to indicate that they
are requesting suicide. Advocates for the disabled are concerned that Question 2
may eventually lead to "quality of life" standards in our society
where those with a lower perceived quality of life receive fewer benefits or
protections, or to situations like the Netherlands where there is
"non-voluntary" and involuntary euthanasia. In short, they believe
that assisted suicide will make the vulnerable more vulnerable.
(5) Terminal diagnoses are often wrong. Under Question 2, eligibility for assisted suicide is based on a terminal diagnosis of six-months or less. There is no specificity whether this six-month diagnosis is with or without medical treatment for the illness. Doctors know terminal diagnoses are simply their best estimate and that these predictions are often inaccurate. Patients often live months, even years, longer. Question 2 could lead people to make a life or death decision based on someone's guess, give up on treatment and lose good years of their lives.
6) Question 2 is shockingly flawed. Even voters that might generally be in favor of assisted suicide have been shocked by some of the elements of Question 2 and have committed to vote no. Most people first think that "physician assisted suicide" consists of receiving one pill from their family physician to be ingested in the presence of a doctor. They are shocked to learn that, instead, a specialist (who likely doesn't know the person and who isn't required to have pain-management training) would provide a prescription for 100 pills to be dispensed at a neighborhood pharmacy and then ingested all at once with no doctor present. They are also shocked to learn that there is no oversight of the lethal drug once it is dispensed to the patient and that there need not be witnesses to the act of suicide to prevent abuse. They are astonished to learn that the death certificate won't indicate that they patient died of assisted suicide and that there are no enforcement provisions, investigative authority, oversight or data verification included in Question 2.
7) Question 2 does not require a patient to consult with a psychiatrist or palliative care expert before receiving the lethal prescription. Many terminally ill patients suffer from depression and there is no requirement that a psychiatrist determine that the person is of sound mind before the request is granted. Additionally, there is no requirement that the doctors who are consulted have expertise in palliative care to ensure that a fear or experience of pain, which can be managed, is leading to the request. Many attendees of our educational workshops have been surprised that these reasonable safeguards aren't included.
Question 2 does not require family notification. There is no requirement that
the patient notify family members. For example, a husband could receive a lethal
prescription without his wife being required to be notified. A mother could feel
a "duty" to not be a burden and to leave a large estate to her
children without her children having a chance to state that they care more about
her than her money. Out-of-state family members might not know that their loved
one is contemplating suicide and have an opportunity to intervene. Compassionate
care at the end of life should involve the loving support and involvement of
Assisted suicide would weaken efforts to expand and improve palliative care.
Palliative and hospice care, and the loving support of family members, are
better alternatives than suicide for the terminally ill. Palliative care is a
person-centered approach that treats all of the different aspects of pain
and suffering. Palliative care experts consider assisted suicide as a
"lazy way out." Rather than ending a life that is filled with
pain and suffering, we should offer compassion, respect and dignity by
providing the best in palliative care. That is where our efforts should be
directed. However, the incentive to do so will be removed if assisted
suicide becomes legal, because suicide will become a substitute for
quality health care in some situations. It is also likely, palliative care
leaders say, that investment in training for palliative care, effective
pain management, and end-of-life communication will be undermined.
Complex issues like assisted suicide should be decided in a legislative process
rather than a ballot initiative. Some voters in Massachusetts oppose
Question 2 because they believe that a ballot initiative process
(dominated by 30-second commercials and sound bites) is not a good way to
deal with a complex, ethical issue involving life and death. The
legislature exists to review proposals, hold public hearings and build
consensus on complicated issues. When we grow old or sick and we are
tempted to lose heart, we should be surrounded by people who ask "How
can I help you?" We deserve to grow old in a society that views our cares
and needs with a compassion grounded in respect, offering genuine support
in our final days. The choices we make together now will decide whether this is
the kind of caring society we will leave to future generations. Please join me
on Election Day to stop assisted suicide by voting "No on Question 2."
Archdiocese of Boston has developed an educational website on the Church's
teachings on end of life issues, www.SuicideIsAlwaysATragedy.org
. The archdiocese is also part of a large coalition of groups from other faiths,
from the medical community, and from disabilities rights groups that are
advocating a no vote on Question 2.
Cardinal O’Malley, OFM, Cap.
Archbishop of Boston
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