Bishops Oppose Legal Euthanasia

Legalizing euthanasia would mark a "radical departure from longstanding legal and medical traditions of our country" and would "violate American convictions about human rights and equality," according to the Administrative Committee of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In a statement, adopted unanimously at the 50-member committee's three-day meeting in Washington that ended Thursday, the Catholic bishops noted that "proposals such as those in the Pacific Northwest, spearheaded by the Hemlock Society, aim to change state laws against homicide and assisted suicide to allow physicians to provide drug overdoses or lethal injections to their terminally ill patients."

Active euthanasia has been endorsed by the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Assn., and a proposal to legalize active euthanasia in Washington state that will be on the ballot in November has been endorsed by the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

The bishops' committee said that while Catholic tradition "recognizes that we are not morally obligated to use all available medical procedures in every set of circumstances, that tradition also "clearly and strongly affirms that as a responsible steward of life one must never directly intend to cause one's own death, or the death of an innocent victim, by action or omission."

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