The front page
of today’s New Haven Register carried an article by Jordan Fenster,
“Right-to-die bill may be discussed by legislature” by which the citizens of
Connecticut were alerted to the possibility that in the next session of the
legislature the question of assisted suicide will be on the table. Following
the defeat of Massachusetts ballot on the same subject last week, the contagion is now again flowing south. Already three US states, Oregon, Montana and Washington, allow for
physician assisted suicide. 34 states prohibit lethal doses of medication that
would end human life.
Let me say from the outset, this is not a Catholic issue. Persons of belief and unbelief ought to be concerned about the potential passing of a law that legalizes medically induced suicide. Hence, this is not a conservative issue. This is not a an anti-human dignity issue. It
is just the opposite: this is a human issue. Who we are a human beings, and how
we teach each other is a human issue that is informed by what we believe and
how we behave. Committing this legislative error is a problem of education.
Recall that in the past when a similar bill was brought to the CT voters it failed only 51-49%.
Several weeks ago there appeared in the New York Times an
intriguing OP-ED article that I believe we need to seriously consider in the
discussion of physician assisted suicide. Considering voices that differ from ours need to be thoughtfully taken into account because we are people use who reason to frame our moral lives. We can’t simply dismiss the other and therefore I appeal to people of belief and unbelief to reasonably discuss what’s at stake. When we rush the discuss without fact we always get burned.
In my opinion not enough attention has been devoted
to considering how this legislation has been lived out in this country and in
others, nor have we considered the philosophical, theological, sociological and
human consequences of such an act. Most often our heart-strings are pulled, even stretched leading us to decide weighty matters without due attention to the reality in front of us –to the person and people and intimately connected with life and death issues. We also don’t always adequately consider the eternal consequences of killing someone before natural death happens.
Who’s life are we “making dignified” by engaging death before it’s naturally
presented? What really is human dignity? What does it mean to be truly a man or
a woman in relationship with other men and women here-and-now, and following
death? To what extent does fear, anxiety and perceived suffering dictate how we
think and act toward others? Are we sufficiently aware of and sensitive to the difference between ideology and being a person, no matter how debilitated?
Here is Ben Mattlin’s October 31, 2012 New York
Times article published online.
Last weekend Nellie Gray, 88, the “Mother of the Pro-Life” movement in the USA died at her Washington, DC home. She was the voice of the marginal in the USA. The annual March for Life was founded by Nellie 39 years ago. She worked to shed light on the evil of abortion which has claimed 55 million lives. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated for the repose of Nellie Gray on the Solemnity of the Assumption.
Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, OFM, Cap, said of Nellie Gray:
news of Nellie Gray’s death, I wish to express my sincere condolences and
prayers for her family and for all who came to know and love her in the
Pro-Life Movement. Her love for life and her dedication to protecting the
unborn, the most vulnerable among us, have inspired countless generations of
Catholics and non-Catholics alike, and we will miss her tremendously.
Gray will be remembered as the Joan of Arc of the Gospel of Life. The
architects of the pro-abortion movement in the United States thought that the
opposition would go away, but close to 40 years later the issue is still very
much alive, thanks in part to the annual March for Life and because of people
like Nellie who are committed to the culture of life. Having participated in
every single March for Life since its inception, I have witnessed firsthand her
advocacy and dedication. I was honored by her presence in Boston in 2009, when
during the Boston Catholic Women’s Conference we conferred upon her the Culture
of Life Award.
Her death is a great loss for both our Church and our Country,
but her life has left a meaningful and lasting impression upon the hearts of
those who knew her and upon the many hearts of those whose lives she saved. We
will keep Nellie Gray and all those who mourn her death in our prayers. We ask
God to grant her eternal rest and peace, and we give thanks to Him for the gift
of her life.
Our Lady of Life, pray for Nellie Gray, and for us.
There’s been a lot of posturing –let alone misinformation– about the recent revelation that the Cardinal of New York, Timothy M. Dolan, invited the US President to the famed Al Smith Dinner. He wants to be inclusive, open to dialogue, and helpful in trying to inform politicos about Catholic teaching on life and public service. Civility is Dolan’s hope.