The dangers of assisted suicide

An open letter from Bishop Stephen Blaire to Assembly member Susan Eggman
Bishop Stephen Blaire (Joan Barnett Lee/Modesto Bee file)

Bishop Stephen Blaire (Joan Barnett Lee/Modesto Bee file)

The following appeared in an August 28 Modesto Bee Community Column. Stephen E. Blaire is the Roman Catholic Bishop of Stockton, which includes Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Alpine, Mono and Tuolumne counties.

Dear Assembly Member Susan Eggman:

I have long respected you for the leadership you exercise in creating initiatives that have advanced justice in Stockton, where you served as a member of the City Council and now as a member of the California Assembly.

But I must strongly oppose your introduction of Assembly Bill X2-15, which would authorize physicians to assist individuals to commit suicide in the final days of their journey on Earth. And sadly this bill is being presented in an extraordinary session designed to focus on how the state will fund future Medi-Cal and subsidized health care costs.

As a state legislator, you have spoken to me about the right to choose to die on one’s own terms as an exercise of autonomy. There is no question that personal autonomy and freedom are gifts from God, but they are not absolutes. Believers accept the dominion of God over their lives. As believers, we do not glorify suffering. In fact we want to alleviate suffering and to make the dying person comfortable through palliative care and love.

Today such care is possible, and much more must be done to make comfortable those who are suffering. We may be ready to die, and even want to die, but the final decision is in the hands of God.

People in their illnesses might be so discouraged one day that they want to take their lives, but the next day they can be renewed in spirit and are glad they did not undertake such an action. As pastors and caregivers we often have experienced people on their deathbed become alert and communicate words of love or reconciliation to those around them.

Have we come to the point in our society where there are so few restraints on our human autonomy that we use the gift of our freedom to go against the commandments of God?

Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton answers questions concerning the reintroduction of right to die legislation, at a news conference on August 18 in Sacramento. The measure, by Eggman, and Sens. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, left, Lois Wolk, D-Davis, and other lawmakers, would allow terminally ill patients to take life ending drugs. A nearly identical bill failed to get out of a legislative committee earlier this year. (from August 18 Mercury News article/AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton answers questions concerning the reintroduction of right to die legislation, at a news conference on August 18 in Sacramento. The measure, by Eggman, and Sens. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, left, Lois Wolk, D-Davis, and other lawmakers, would allow terminally ill patients to take life ending drugs. (from August 18 Mercury News article/AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Why would it be acceptable to authorize physicians to provide lethal dosages to those who wish to commit suicide when the commandment of God says: “You Shall Not Kill”? Is this form of killing truly “merciful”? Does it not undermine the justice of God, which protects the right of the human person to life through natural death?

Once society enters into the pattern of deliberately terminating life, there is no limit to where this evil might deteriorate. In Oregon there are virtually no controls. Only those who choose to do so report their actions. In Holland the time limits for “qualifying” have been lengthened and the rationale for suicide is broadened to anything one defines as “suffering.”

Some accuse the Catholic Church of wrongly exerting pressure on the Legislature. However, we live in the United States, and the Church has as much right as any other community or organization to seek to persuade. We seek to share our values, moral convictions and experience for what we believe strengthens the dignity of the human person and promotes the common good. We want to be a voice with and for the disabled who fear that they will be manipulated out of the way. We want to be a voice with and for those who believe that human life is an inalienable right and that no one should be tossed aside, especially when they are at their weakest and most vulnerable.

Parents may not want to be a “burden” to their children, but they are not a burden; they are a grace that enables their children to “honor their father and their mother.”
I am convinced that ABX2-15 does not promote the interests of the common good and does not protect the poor and vulnerable.

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  1. Thank you Bishop Blaire for your fine article.

  2. The main danger of assisted suicide is ETERNAL DAMNATION. Being a sin against the Holy Spirit, it is one sin according to Jesus Christ, that cannot be forgiven.

  3. OneoftheSheep says:

    In Holland, people do not place their seriously ill family members in hospitals without a 24 hour watch on them. I have heard stories of a relative leaving and the patient mysteriously dies in the night while “no one” has their eyes of the ‘merciful and compassionate’ staff members.

    The good bishop is right to question the need for such a bill. Who profits from it? Certainly not the patient who is abandoned and vulnerable in the final days of his/her life. We can and must do better than offering death to the sick.

  4. Last Friday, August 28th, about half a dozen pro-death agitators gathered in front of their CA state assembly rep’s office in Burbank. Fittingly, they wore yellow, the color of cowardice.

    I interrupted their death fest, shouting “no, no, no, this is misplaced compassion. Killing is not treatment.” One participant had the audacity to wear a Roman collar, and I called him out in particular.

    An older man rushed up to me, saying he was dying, cursed me, then told me to go away. Having had my say, I did walk away, and the first thing I saw was a van passing by with a “Pray the Rosary” bumper sticker.

    These people are either naive or evil, and we must never hesitate to fight their Culture of Death message. God does not…

  5. John Patrick says:

    We are headed down the same path as the Nazis took. First voluntary suicide, then secret euthanasia.

  6. We are too busy with cereal and circus to see the devil at work around us. Life is no longer precious, when you have to qualify it (BLACK lives matter, etc). God made us in His own likeness, and if we are called to suffer, then we are more conformed to Christ. But today, we haven’t got time for the pain, so suffering is out, and all lives that may interfere with our selfish agenda, are considered worthless.

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