Washington Assisted Suicide Law Takes Effect

Bishops Speak for At-Risk Individuals

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SEATTLE, Washington, MARCH 5, 2009 (Zenit.org).- As Washington state’s assisted suicide law takes effect today, pro-lifers are focusing on advocating for true compassion and authentic dignity.

Today, Initiative 1000 becomes a law, making Washington the second U.S. state to legalize assisted suicide. The “death with dignity” bill, passed last November, allows physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to patients with an estimated less than six months to live.

In their efforts to oppose the bill, the bishops of the Washington Catholic Conference affirmed in a statement on their Web site: “We believe that God alone has sovereignty over life, and that human beings are not simply autonomous individuals, but a family called into communion with God and each other.”

The conference noted that Oregon, the first state to create such a law, has had more than 400 people kill themselves with drugs prescribed by a physician over the past decade.

True dignity

The bishops’ statement noted: “As God’s creation, the value and dignity of human life cannot be limited by the boundaries of our earthly existence.

“We therefore embrace the hope that the fullness of life consists not in the number of our days, but in sharing the very life of God. This sacred reality calls us to be grateful stewards of life from its beginning to its natural end.”

They continued with a warning against the new law: “Initiative 1000 contradicts this understanding and represents a dangerous new assault on the culture of life.

“Of special concern is the threat that legalizing assisted suicide poses for vulnerable persons, who are already at risk of marginalization by an individualistic and utilitarian perspective of life. Those most at risk from this dangerous change in public policy are elderly persons, those without adequate health care, people with disabilities and those with no family support system.”

True Compassion Advocates, formerly the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide, held a demonstration today to advocate “for improved end of life care and protesting the legalization of physician-assisted suicide.”

The group’s director, Eileen Geller, explained in a press release that the advocates will now begin a new campaign to raise “awareness about the dangers of assisted suicide and the plight of vulnerable patients” and to “advocate for true compassion, promote authentic dignity, and advance life-affirming choices.”

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