Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bishops See Peril in Oregon's New Assisted-Suicide Law

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bishops See Peril in Oregon's New Assisted-Suicide Law

Article excerpt

Oregon voters skidded onto a dangerous path last week when they voted to legalize doctor-assisted suicide, Catholic bishops are warning at their annual meeting in Washington. They worry that the new law may give euthanasia a boost in other states.

"Whatever wounds, weakens or destroys life is a great danger," said St. Louis Archbishop Justin Rigali, quoting a phrase from Pope John Paul II. The Oregon law "puts people in the condition of not being able to defend human dignity."

Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles, called the vote "a cancer more lethal than any physical ailment."

California has twice defeated measures like the law that passed in Oregon. Now with the Oregon vote, the cardinal expects that a doctor-assisted suicide measure will be brought to California voters again.

Archbishop William J. Levada of Portland, Ore., and Bishop Thomas J. Connelly of Baker, Ore., called for Oregon doctors and nurses to stand fast by the American Medical Association, which holds that assisted-suicide is unethical.

Today, the two Oregon bishops will discuss the issue before 278 bishops attending the 48th general meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and United States Catholic Conference.

When the Oregon law takes effect Dec. 8, the state will become the only place in the nation that lets doctors hasten death for the dying.

A patient with six months or less to live will be able to ask a doctor to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs. At least two doctors must agree that the patient's condition is terminal, and the patient must ask three times, the last time in writing.

Doctors who follow the law's guidelines cannot be prosecuted or sanctioned by professional organizations and licensing boards.

Many voters who pulled the lever in favor of the measure may be poorly informed, said the Rev. Thomas Kopfensteiner, professor of moral theology at Kenrick Seminary in St. …

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