Minnesota Catholic Conference urges rejection of assisted-suicide bill

The Minnesota Catholic Conference is calling on Catholics to contact their legislators and urge them to reject a bill that would legalize assisted suicide in Minnesota.

The End of Life Options Act (HF 2152), which would allow terminally ill adults to choose to end their lives, was introduced March 7 in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

“The bill is perhaps the most dangerous and aggressive assisted suicide legislation introduced in the United States,” MCC said in an email through its Catholic Advocacy Network.

The bill distorts the role of health care professionals as healers who seek to “do no harm” and requires all doctors who assist those with terminal conditions to advise the patient that assisted suicide is a treatment option, the MCC said. It also forces health care professionals and provider organizations to participate in the assisted suicide process and endangers the elderly and vulnerable adults through its lack of appropriate safeguards, according to MCC.

“Research demonstrates that the overwhelming motivation for requests for assisted suicide revolves around fear of future suffering, dependency and loss of dignity,” saidFather Tom Knoblach, diocesan consultant for health care ethics and pastor of Holy Spirit, St. Anthony and St. John Cantius parishes in St. Cloud.

“When palliative care with its holistic approach to body, mind and spirit is accepted, these requests are consistently withdrawn,” Father Knoblach said. “We can respond with a clearer understanding of Catholic teaching on the appropriate use of life-sustaining interventions and when they may be morally forgone; greater availability and use of palliative care; and the support of a caring community that affirms the worth of every person, regardless of the state of development or decline.”

Among the bill’s problematic provisions, Father Knoblach said, are eliminating any specified waiting period, allowing any licensed provider (not only physicians) to write the prescription for aid-in-dying medication, limiting the rights of facilities to regulate the practice on their own premises and the requirement that a provider who objects to assisted suicide must make a timely referral to another provider who will participate.

Those who do not comply could face possible censure and litigation.

A doctor would not need to be present when the medication is taken and the patient would be required to self-administer, Father Knoblach said. It is not very clear, though, on what that means. The wording in the bill says they must make “an affirmative, conscious, voluntary act to take medication.”

“Such legislation is contrary not only to Catholic teaching about euthanasia, but the stewardship and dignity of human life as God’s gift, the limits on our autonomy and control over life and death, and the proper role of law and medicine in society,” Father Knoblach said.

“Even those who do not share our convictions in these principles can understand the social costs when we have no incentive to improve care or therapies for the sick; when we respond to illness and the dependence of the vulnerable by eliminating them from our midst; when suicide is normalized as a response to suffering, anxiety, and distress; and when we compromise the role of health care providers by enlisting them as active agents of death.”

For information about how to contact legislators, visit www.mncatholic.org.


Author: Dianne Towalski

Dianne Towalski is a multimedia reporter for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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