Bishops urge public to contact legislators on physician-assisted suicide bills

BRAINTREE -- The Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC) is urging parishes to sound the alarm about two bills which would legalize physician-assisted suicide in Massachusetts.

In an Oct. 18 statement, which the MCC requested be made available in churches throughout the Archdiocese of Boston on the weekend of Oct. 28 and 29, Catholics are encouraged to call and email their legislators in opposition to H.2246 and S.1331.

These identical bills, brought before the State House of Representatives and Senate, would make it legal for doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally-ill patients who wish to end their own lives. The MCC's increased urgency is in response to an Oct. 20 hearing held on Beacon Hill to address the topic.

"When it's a topic of discussion amongst legislators," MCC President Jim Driscoll said Oct. 20, "the church needs to make loud and clear that our voice is heard on the issue."

The MCC is the public policy arm of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts. Its positions represent the official positions of the bishops of the state's four dioceses.

"The bishops are always going to be on the side of life," Driscoll said, "including in the precious times that life is ending."

Massachusetts voters can visit to find contact information for their own state senators and representatives, as well as members of the Legislature Joint Committee on Public Health. Those without internet access should call the MCC at 617-746-5630 to find out who they should contact.

The MCC statement called the bills "deeply troubling," especially the provision that patients given less than six months to live should have access to physician-assisted suicide.

"The diagnosis could be wrong," the statement read. "Countless individuals have outlived that six-month diagnosis and enjoyed many more precious months and years with family and friends."

The statement also expressed concern that people with disabilities or mental issues could be coerced into taking the lethal drugs, "especially if there is a financial benefit as an incentive."

Driscoll told The Pilot that the Catholic Church must defend life until natural death, "not a death that's predetermined by some law."