The Bishops' Conference of Colombia has rejected a proposed law on euthanasia and assisted suicide currently being debated and said the country "has not been told the truth" about the measure.

After "attentive study, the Catholic Church wishes to express its total disagreement with the bill and its deep concern about the abuses that could result from its possible enactment," the bishops said in a Nov. 21 statement.

"The promoters of the law have repeatedly hidden from the public the serious implications and intentions of their proposal. There is nothing pious or humanitarian about it."

Despite supporters' arguments that the law will protect the rights of the sick, it instead "defends shadowy ideological and economic interests," the bishops said.

For example, they noted, the proposed law does not limit itself to "regulating" the 1997 ruling by Colombia's Constitutional Court that decriminalized euthanasia.  

"That ruling did not legalize euthanasia in Colombia, but rather was limited to decriminalizing one specific case: that of a terminally ill patient who voluntarily and repeatedly, of his own free will, asks his attending physician for an early end to his life in order to avoid pain and suffering."

"The current bill establishes motives, criteria and procedures that contradict even those contemplated by the Constitutional Court," the bishops warned.

Article five of the law, additionally, "would legalize non-voluntary euthanasia, that is, that which is carried out without the express consent of the patient."

In their remarks, the bishops insisted that the bill is ultimately "a grave attack on the right to life and the health of all Colombians, especially the poorest and most disadvantaged."