(by Archbishop John C. Nienstedt)
April 9, 2015
It was a terrible shock to learn that the reason behind the crash of Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner on March 30, 2015, in the southeastern French Alps may have been the intentional decision of the co-pilot to kill himself and all 149 passengers as well.
Much speculation has taken place about Andreas Lubitz’s psychological state that motivated him to do what he did. Unfortunately, there are always ripple effects when a person takes his or her own life. Many are not as dramatic as the point in question, yet those repercussions are just as real.
That is why I call your attention to Senate File 1880 introduced in the Minnesota Senate last month that would legalize assisted suicide. Hearings have yet to be scheduled, but surely the forces behind this bill will push to have it succeed. It is important, then, that those of us who cherish the gift of life push back on this initiative.
For certain, the lives of the elderly, the severely ill and every disabled person would be threatened if this bill becomes law. Persons who are depressed may be convinced that this is an easy way out as opposed to being treated with long-term medical and mental health care. Insurance companies may also find this a cheap “fix,” rather than providing for extended hospice care. Eager heirs to a persons’ will or abusive caregivers might well put pressure on the patient, convincing that person that the taking of one’s life is a good thing to do.
In the State of Oregon, which has had physician-assisted suicide for several years, 40 percent of assisted suicide victims expressed concern about being a “burden” on family and friends. In reality, assisted suicide does not solve this problem; rather, it eliminates the person telling you that he has the problem. Pope Francis refers frequently to “our throwaway culture,” and assisted suicide is certainly a good indication of that.
Advocates claim that assisted suicide alleviates suffering and pain. But suffering and pain can be controlled, allowing persons to live their final days or months in comfort, with the compassionate care of medical assistants, family and friends, as well as church groups. Quality palliative care can and does provide medical care as well as emotional support. It, not assisted suicide, is the more dignified way to die.
The authors of Senate File 1880 are Senators Eaton, Pappas, Dibble and Marty. I encourage our readership to contact these legislators and share your conviction that all human life has value and needs to be protected.
God love you!