Last week, the National Council on Disabilities (NCD) released a federal study revealing that assisted suicide laws are dangerous to people with disabilities. In its report, “The Danger of Assisted Suicide Laws,” NCD provides several policy recommendations including urging states to not legalize any form of assisted suicide or active euthanasia. The NCD is an independent federal agency charged with advising the president, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, of Kansas City in Kansas, and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Bishop Frank J. Dewane, of Venice, and Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development issued the following statement:
“We applaud the National Council on Disabilities for its critical research and report exposing serious risks of abuse, coercion, and discrimination posed by assisted suicide laws, specifically for people with disabilities. Every suicide is a human tragedy, regardless of the age, incapacity, or social/economic status of the individual. The legalization of doctor-assisted suicide separates people into two groups: those whose lives we want to protect and those whose deaths we encourage. This is completely unjust and seriously undermines equal protection under the law. The human rights and intrinsic worth of a person do not change with the onset of age, illness, or disability. As Pope Francis said, “True compassion does not marginalize anyone, nor does it humiliate and exclude – much less considers the disappearance of a person as a good thing.” We must do what we can to uphold the dignity of life, cherish the lives of all human beings, and work to prevent all suicides. We urge state and federal governments, health care providers, and associations to heed this report’s warnings and recommendations, especially its opposition to assisted suicide laws.”