Several bills have been introduced in New York State that would fundamentally alter the doctor-patient relationship by authorizing physician-assisted suicide for individuals declared by a doctor to be terminally ill.
Bishop Richard J. Malone is asking Western New York Catholics to consider sending a message to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature opposing the legislation.
Like similar bills that have passed in several other states, New York's bills lack important safeguards, making coercion or misapplication of the law a serious threat. Furthermore, they send a dangerous message to society that when someone is considered a "burden" to someone else, his or her life is no longer worth living.
While New York rightly spends millions of dollars a year to combat suicide, it is considering undermining these efforts significantly by declaring that oftentimes, suicide is "death with dignity." The not-so-subtle implication is that those who choose to fight for their lives or to simply allow themselves to die a natural death are somehow undignified.
The New York State Catholic Conference has joined other opponents as part of the New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide, made up of patients-rights, disabilities-rights advocates, health care, civil rights and faith-based advocacy organizations. Together we support increased access to palliative care (comfort care) and a rejection of the dangerous national movement toward physician-assisted suicide.