Blessed Be God in the Highest

Physician-Assisted Suicide

Statement of the Catholic Health Association

ST. LOUIS, Nov. 5 -- The Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA) has issued the following statement in response to the defeat of Measure 51, which now allows assisted suicide in Oregon.

The Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA) is greatly saddened by yesterday's defeat of Measure 51 in Oregon. Our conviction about the sanctity and dignity of life leads us to reject the premise that assisted suicide is a response to the needs of terminally-ill persons. Legalizing assisted suicide is the simplistic, wrong answer to a difficult and complex problem. Appropriate and compassionate care for persons with life-threatening illness has been and continues to be our primary concern. Catholic tradition distinguishes between the forgoing of life-sustaining treatment, which may be appropriate, and helping persons commit suicide, which is always unacceptable.

The legalization of assisted suicide creates potential moral and legal dilemmas for Catholic healthcare providers in Oregon. The law makes it difficult for Catholic organizations to sustain an environment where appropriate and compassionate care is possible. We urge the governor and the legislature to amend the law to include an adequate conscience clause.

Catholic healthcare providers are dedicated to improving comprehensive services to persons with life-threatening illness and their families. Catholic healthcare strives to be a caring alternative to those who might consider assisted suicide. We do so through improved pain management, as well as care for the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of every person.

The St. Louis-based Catholic Health Association of the United States represents more than 1,200 Catholic-sponsored facilities and organizations nationwide. The members make up the nation's largest group of not-for-profit healthcare facilities under a single form of sponsorship.

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