Jersey is a British crown dependency, with its own government and legal system, though the British monarch is head of state. It has a unicameral legislature called the States Assembly, which backed an assisted suicide proposition by 36 votes to 10, with three absences, on Nov. 25, 2021.
Eagan’s letter comes amid elections in Jersey. The bishop urged voters to overturn the “grim proposals” currently before the island’s legislature. The proposition would permit an adult island resident under certain conditions with a “voluntary, clear, settled, and informed wish to end his or her own life” to seek assisted suicide.
“Don’t let Jersey become a destination for death and suicide tourism. Assisted suicide is incompatible with a doctor’s role as healer. It would be difficult or impossible to control. It would pose serious societal risks. The right to die would soon become the duty to die,” he noted.
The Catholic Church supports, rather than assisted suicide or euthanasia, palliative care, which means seeking to accompany a patient towards the end of their lives with methods such as pain management. While firmly opposing euthanasia, Catholics do not believe life must always be prolonged with unduly burdensome medical treatment. Pope Francis has described assisted suicide as part of a "throwaway culture" that offers a "false compassion" and treats a human person as a problem.
“Frailty, pain and infirmity are a difficult trial for anyone. Those who are terminally ill can experience despair and gloom at the problems they face, even feeling a sense of burden on family and a financial burden on society. Yet we can thank God for the amazing advances that medical science has made and for the level of loving care that can nowadays be given,” Eagan wrote.
“Modern drugs and modern methods mean that in today’s world, palliative care doctors and nurses can use their skills and knowledge to ensure that pain is properly managed at the end of life. Indeed, as a Christian, I would go further and say that in union with Christ, it is possible to find from Him all the strength, patience and energy we need to sustain our suffering – to ‘carry the cross’ (Mt 16: 24) – and to turn it into a positive good for others.”