The bill creates legal protections for doctors "who freely agree to help those who, in the circumstances and with the procedures established by law, ask them for assistance to end their lives."
In their statement, the bishops argue that the legislation challenges "the absolute value of human life and its character as an untouchable and inalienable fundamental human right, and goes against the Constitution and human rights."
If passed, the bishops said, the bill would open the door to euthanasia and assisted suicide, as well as the abuses seen in other countries where such practices are legalized, such as failure to obtain patient consent, and financial or family pressures leading to assisted suicide.
Opposing assisted suicide does not mean it is necessary to keep a patient alive through any means, the bishops clarified. They cautioned against an obstinate insistence on treatment that will prolong life without prospect of recovery, saying, "The application of disproportionate therapeutic and diagnostic procedures only serves to uselessly prolong the agony."
However, they continued, palliative care can be properly used to alleviate suffering in the face of an untreatable condition and is a morally acceptable alternative to causing death in the patient.
People living with serious illnesses or approaching death "especially need and want all kinds of support, as well as pastoral care," the bishops of Uruguay said. "It's a fact consistent with the spiritual nature of the human being confirmed by sociological science."