Assisted Suicide and the Sanctity of Life

Since 2015, the Utah Legislature has considered legislation to legalize suicide in certain cases. The bills would allow a person who is diagnosed with a terminal illness to seek a prescription for a lethal does of medication with which to kill him or herself. 

The Diocese of Salt Lake City opposes assisted suicide. While legislation is marketed around the country as being the compassionate choice for patients, in philosophy and practice assisted suicide is not compassionate. True compassion is illustrated in the example of Mother Theresa who "assisted" many people "in dying" and "helped" many people "to die." She was present to them, assuring them that they would not die alone. She helped them find the courage to face death, the conviction that their dignity had not been lost, and the serenity borne of receiving love from people and from God. This is the legitimate meaning of death with dignity and of helping people to die. 

The national push to enact a "right to die" is not going away. Please consider the following resources as Utah and other states continue to debate legalization of suicide.

Utah Resources:

Diocese of Salt Lake City Assisted Suicide Parish Resource:  Sets out our moral, theological and practical concerns with the bills proposed in the Utah Legislature.  En Espanol.

Death with Dignity laws are Opposed to Catholic Teaching: Intermountain Catholic column on Catholic teaching and proposed Utah law.

Death with Dignity is Ill-Conceived Legislation:  Statement of Bishop Wester on Utah legislation.

National Resources:

To Live Each Day with Dignity: A  website from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops containing numerous studies, resources, and articles related to assisted suicide.

The Illusion of Safeguards and Controls:  A scholarly article regarding the many problems with oft-touted safeguards in assisted suicide legislation.

Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Foundation:  A national organization of physicians dedicated to providing truly compassionate care for patients. Includes critical studies of Oregon's much touted law and articles such as "A Doctor-Assisted Disaster for Medicine" on the impact of such laws.

Patients Rights Action Fund: A national non-profit that provides financial and strategic support throughout the U.S. to protect the rights of patients and people with disabilities by opposing doctor prescribed suicide legislation.

Why Assisted Suicide Must Not be Legalized: A detailed analysis of assisted suicide legislation and its impacts on people with disabilities. Also an amicus brief filed on behalf of disability rights groups establishing how the legislation violates the AMericans with Disabilities Act.

Facts About Assisted Suicide in Oregon: A brief factual glance at the impact of physician assisted suicide in Oregon.

Videos From Patients Rights Action Fund:

Luke's Story:  Every Suicide is Tragic

John's Story:  Beyond Independence

Dr. Brescia:  How Can we Risk a Person's Life on a Guess?

Jeanette's Story:  15 Years Later

The Facts in Oregon and Washington

Assisted Suicide Abuses and Complications

 Advising Law Clients on the Statute -from an Elder Law Attorney

The Effect of Assisted Suicide Legislation on Suicide Rates

International Experience with Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia

Dutch Ethicist:  "Assisted Suicide - Don't Go There"

Rushing Toward Death? Assisted Dying in the Netherlands