Diocese holds forum on doctor-assisted suicide

Posted at 11:27 PM, Sep 08, 2016

New York State lawmakers are considering the Medical Aid in Dying Act, a reason why the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo held a forum Thursday night to address why the Catholic Church is against it. Suicide is considered a mortal sin under Catholic doctrine.

"It turns medical doctors from healers into killers," said Kathleen Gallagher, Director of Pro-Life Activities in New York State Catholic Conference. "We, as a Church, feel that especially in this year of mercy, we are supposed to accompany people who are suffering. Be with them, be compassionate, to help them get into good hospice care and good pain management services, not to offer them a lethal dose of drugs and say 'hey you can go kill yourself'".

The New York State Assembly Health Committee approved the bill earlier this year, that could legalize doctor-assisted suicide in the state. According to Gallagher, so far five states have approved this bill. Oregon was the first to legalize it.

"This proposed law is about a class of people that doesn't represent the majority of New Yorkers who suffer at the end of life," said former New York State Attorney General, Dennis Vacco. "This law does not even remotely take into account the disabled, the elderly without healthcare, folks who have no loving family members or a physician who really cares about their health."

Vacco appeared in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997, arguing against doctor-assisted suicide. He still stands his ground.

"The Supreme Court agreed with me," said Vacco. They rejected the notion that there's a constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide."

Nation-wide campaign Compassion & Choices argued that having more options when it comes to someone's final days is important.

"I've talked to too many people and particularly people of faith who sit by the bedisde and hear a loved one say please help me die," said Campaign Director Corinne Carey. "What this does is this provides an option for people. We have tremendous amount of support among people of faith. Polling shows that 74.8% of Catholics believe this should be an option for people."

Carey added that the more people talk about this, the more they tend to support the proposed law. She said a recent pole showed that approximately 81% of New Yorkers believe the state should have this option.

The legislature adjourned soon after the bill was approved by the New York Assembly Health Committee, and will be re-introduced in January.