April 6, 2018
peddle death as the answer to every social problem will bend over backwards to
look reasonable and compassionate.
example, the issue of assisted suicide. The so-called "right" to take one's own
life is heralded as a compassionate answer to a disability, a terminal illness,
a degenerating health condition, depression, or simply a desire to not want to go
on any longer. We who oppose suicide for those most in need of real compassion
are accused of trying to limit the rights of others. And so, showing love and
true concern for the neighbor in need is now labeled as extremism. But who are
the true extremists?
A handful of U.S.
states and our Canadian neighbors have now codified assisted suicide as a legal
"right." Who has benefitted from this new found "right?" Rather than increasing
options for those facing illness or disability, the lower cost of assisted
suicide seems to be influencing the amount of medical care given to those in
need, especially those most dependent on government assistance.
increasing frequency, we hear stories of patients being refused treatment or help
with daily living, while being offered assisted suicide instead. Just last
month, a terminally ill Canadian man sued his hospital and several
governmental agencies claiming that he was denied proper medical care, but
instead offered assisted suicide. There are similar examples in the U.S. in
states that have legalized assisted suicide. Patients are being told their
insurance won't cover life-sustaining treatments, but the insurance companies
are happy to mention that assisted suicide is indeed fully covered. And if
death is a cheaper option than good pain control, there will be much less
incentive to provide or improve palliative or hospice care, to keep people
comfortable and cared for as they near the end of their lives.
Those most likely to be pressured to end their lives are the
people who are poor, marginalized, and members of minority communities—those
with less access to quality health care or with no one to advocate for them.
And so, the "right" to die can quickly become an expectation
to die or even a "duty" to die. Once deemed a burden on society or a waste of
limited medical resources, those most in need will be offered the fewest options,
with death sadly portrayed as the best bargain of all.
Time is running short before further efforts to legalize and
promote assisted suicide inevitably ramp up nationwide. Volunteer with your
diocesan respect life office or your parish's outreach to those who are
homebound. Assist your state Catholic conference in fending off attempts to
legalize assisted suicide. Demonstrate through your words and actions toward
those around you how much you treasure them. And pray hard that our world will
value and uphold the dignity of every human life.
Tom Grenchik is the Executive Director of the Secretariat of
Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Learn
about the Church's teaching on end of life care at www.usccb.org/toliveeachday.