(h/t to the Diocese of Manchester and the Catholic Education Resource Center for bringing this to my attention.)
Assisted suicide is now legal in California. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles is not mincing words as he responds to this human rights disaster. His inspiring statement is full of challenge and resolve. A few excerpts:
With the new “End of Life Options” law we are crossing a line — from being a society that cares for those who are aging and sick to a society that kills those whose suffering we can no longer tolerate.
Our government leaders tell us that granting the right to choose a doctor-prescribed death is compassionate and will comfort the elderly and persons facing terminal and chronic illness.
But killing is not caring. True compassion means walking with those who are suffering, sharing their pain, helping them bear their burdens. Loving your neighbor as yourself is not a duty we fulfill by giving our neighbor a lethal dose of pills.
Assisted suicide represents a failure of solidarity and will only increase the sense of isolation and loneliness that many people already feel in our society. With this new law, we are abandoning our most vulnerable and frail neighbors — dismissing them as “not worthy” of our care and as a “drain” on our limited social resources.
…The proper response to an unjust law is conscientious objection. And this is an unjust law.
…A person does not stop being a person, does not lose his or her dignity or right to life — just because he or she loses certain physical or mental capacities. Indeed, it is when people are most vulnerable that they are most in need of our compassion and love.
“I am steadfastly opposed to euthanasia. I have spent my entire career protecting life, especially the life of children….I regret that my recent comments about Terri Schiavo have been taken out of context and misinterpreted. When I used the term ‘much ado about nothing,’ my point was that the media tried to create the impression that the pro-life community was nutty and going way overboard with the support of the patient.”
The article continued, “[Dr. Carson] told LifeSiteNews that his off-the-cuff remarks to a reporter from the Tampa Bay Times meant that doctors should allow terminally ill patients to refuse heroic medical treatment, not to deny food and water to someone diagnosed in a persistent vegetative state (PVS).”
I’m pleased that the good doctor acknowledged the concerns raised by his earlier remarks. My particular concerns expressed in an earlier post persist. If what he means is that he flat-out refuses to tolerate starvation for patients with brain damage, that’s good news.
At what point would having a disability render me “unviable”?
Along with countless other people paying attention to news reports, I grieve for a Texas family coping with a terrible situation. Marlise Muñoz was reportedly declared “brain dead” last November following a pulmonary embolism. She was 14 weeks pregnant at the time. Quoting from this weekend’s Wall Street Journal: “Her husband, Erick Muñoz, had requested for weeks that she be removed from life support, but the hospital has maintained that it was required to continue medical service under a Texas law that restricts removing life support from pregnant patients, a measure designed to protect unborn children.”
A judge has just okayed removal of Mrs. Muñoz’s ventilator. Her situation will soon be settled, if not resolved. So will her child’s.
According to the family attorney who is serving as spokeswoman, the fetus has exhibited abnormalities and is no longer viable. Scans of the fetus reportedly show lack of development of the lower body.
That brought me up short.
No longer viable? Did she mean this 22-week preborn child used to be viable, which is supposed to mean able to survive outside the mother’s body?
I don’t know. What I do know is that the hair on the back of my neck stood up when that lawyer mentioned “abnormalities” and “viability” together. A sign of the times, I guess. I get uneasy at the thought that any of us, born or preborn, has to be considered normal before being considered worth protecting.
Perhaps I’m reading the worst into the situation. Pregnant women die every day, and their children die with them. It’s just that the juxtaposition of abnormalities with viability gets to me.
I pray for the Muñoz family, and for the doctors and attorneys who are working with them. I pray everyone’s being well-served by the professionals in this case.