The Catholic Church is opposed to physician-assisted suicide, as well as all other forms of suicide.
Those opposed to assisted suicide point out that it has the potential for abuse and that many recipients of it are not actually terminally ill.
“Like other states that have confused liberty with license, New Jersey is considering a law that would promote physician-prescribed death. The proposal violates the sacred oath of the medical profession, recognized even by pre-Christian cultures, to heal the sick and preserve life,” Dr. Edward J. Furton, an ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, told CNA.
Furton explained to CNA that the majority of patients who pursue physician-assisted suicide do so due to fears of “being a burden on others” or because they “suffer from despair, loneliness, or feelings of unwantedness.”
“Very few choose this route because of severe pain,” he told CNA. While Furton agreed that those in severe pain should be given assistance and treatment, he did not think it was appropriate or proper to “abandon them to hopelessness” and promote the idea of suicide.
“Physicians should have no part in this reversal of the traditional aims of their profession, preserving health and life,” he added.
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The New Jersey law would be limited to adults. Two physicians would have to agree that the patient seeking to die has less than six months to live. In order to receive the lethal dose, the patient would have to submit three requests (with one in writing) to a doctor. The written request must be witnessed by two people, and one of the two people cannot be a family member, physician, or someone who is named as a beneficiary of the patient.
The patient would then have to self-administer the medication.
Six states, as well as the District of Columbia, have approved physician-assisted suicide, and its status is unclear in the state of Montana. Oregon was the first state to pass an assisted-suicide law, doing so in 1994. Washington followed suit in 2008.