"This is the beginning of tyranny," he said, adding: "With this new law, we are abandoning our most vulnerable and frail neighbors – dismissing them as 'not worthy' of our care and as a 'drain' on our limited social resources."
Archbishop Gomez said assisted suicide "represents a failure of solidarity." He predicted it will increase isolation and loneliness in society, and will worsen health care inequalities, given that the poor and elderly have fewer options and worse access to palliative care.
"In a state where millions are forced to rely on government-subsidized care, who can imagine the government will continue paying for months and perhaps years of costly treatments rather than prescribing a cheap bottle of suicide pills?" Archbishop Gomez asked.
The archbishop reminded doctors, nurses, health administrators, hospitals, and health care facilities that the law protects their consciences and does not compel cooperation.
"The proper response to an unjust law is conscientious objection. And this is an unjust law," he said. "Helping patients to kill themselves denies patients their dignity and diminishes the humanity of those entrusted to care for them. Medical professionals are called to be servants of life, not dispensers of death."
He said there will be continued problems in California health care that make people afraid to grow old or become disabled. Nursing home workers will still be "overworked and underpaid" with working conditions that impede quality medical care, and medical schools will still fail to provide proper training in palliative care and end-of-life treatment.
"These are the real issues that make the prospect of terminal illness and dying so frightening to people in California," he said, appealing for political and medical leaders to address these concerns.
The archbishop prayed that God will give the courage "to do what is right" and that the Virgin Mary will help us see "that we are all brothers and sisters called to love and care for one another."