The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and other religious organizations jointly filed a friend-of-the-court brief Friday, declaring that the U.S. Attorney General was correct in concluding that assisted suicide is not a legitimate medical practice under the Controlled Substances Act.
The organizations asked the United States Supreme Court to reverse a Ninth Circuit decision, which struck the Attorney General’s interpretation of the Act.
The high court is expected to render a decision on the case, Gonzales v. State of Oregon, next term.
“The Attorney General’s conclusion that there is a difference between assisting suicide and managing pain, and that the former is not a legitimate medical purpose within the meaning of the Controlled Substances Act, while the latter is, is not only eminently reasonable but also supported by longstanding medical practice and past interpretation of the Act,” the brief said.
“Enforcing the distinction leads to improvements in patient care. Blurring the distinction has been harmful to patients and has jeopardized their care.”
The brief noted that medicine by its very definition aims to prevent illness, to heal, and to alleviate pain. “Taking a human life accomplishes none of these objectives.”
“What virtually every state regards as a crime, indeed as a form of homicide, does not become ‘medicine’ simply because the perpetrator is a doctor, the patient is terminally ill, or one state has decided to rescind its own criminal penalties for the act.”
Other signatories to the brief include: the California Catholic Conference, Oregon Catholic Conference, Washington State Catholic Conference, Catholic Health Association of the United States, and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.