‘Path to self-destruction’: Catholic bishop blasts bills on physician-assisted suicides in New York
Rev. Salvatore R. Matano says, ‘The precious life of the new-born child is the same precious life of the old and the frail, the weak and the suffering, the ill and the infirm, the distraught and the sorrowful.’
[Where are the rest of the New York State Catholic bishops on this matter – especially Cardinal Tiny Tim?]
A Catholic bishop in New York has denounced bills in the state legislature that would legalise physician-assisted suicides, saying these could lead to a “path of self-destruction.”
In a statement picked up by ChurchMillitant, Rev. Salvatore R. Matano, Bishop of Rochester, noted that two such bills are pending with the New York State Legislature—the End-of-Life Options Act, or S.3685/A.2129-A, and the Patient Self-Determination Act, or S.5814/A.5261-B).
He emphasised that all lives are precious.
“The precious life of the new-born child is the same precious life of the old and the frail, the weak and the suffering, the ill and the infirm, the distraught and the sorrowful,” he said.
He warned that “when we subjectively determine when life begins and ends, when it is viable or not, or when it is too burdensome to endure, we begin a path toward self-destruction.”
The bills, he said, treat life as just a commodity in the business of living.
“The value of persons who are gravely ill and/or at the end of their lives is currently being questioned and their very lives threatened by a growing movement in our society to end life prematurely,” Matano said.
S. 3685 would allow a terminally ill adult in New York to request a prescription for aid-in-dying medication. The bill protects physicians from any civil or criminal liability and professional disciplinary action resulting from the death of a patient who took such medication.
S. 5814 also has a similar intent. Here, a terminally ill adult in the state may write a request for consent to self-administer medication to end his life.
Dr. Herbert Hendin, CEO and medical director of Suicide Prevention Initiatives in New York City, urged lawmakers to reject any proposal to legalise doctor-assisted suicide and focus instead on accessible quality end-of-life care.
According to Dr. Michael Brescia, executive medical director of Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, a specialty hospital serving advanced cancer patients, there are advances in pain medicine.
“Clearly, then, the rejection of physician-assisted suicide is not solely a Catholic position, it is a human rights imperative,” Matano said, saying the Catholic Church is the defender of life.
He said instead of euthanasia bills, what is needed is support for health care measures that will relieve suffering so that terminally ill patients will feel the love and concern of the people around them.
“I urge New York State lawmakers to reject the legalisation of physician-assisted suicide, for it will inevitably put tremendous pressure on our most vulnerable citizens to end their lives,” Matano said.