WASHINGTON (January 3, 1997) -- On January 8 the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the most fundamental question it has confronted in over two decades -- whether the Constitution confers on seriously ill persons a "right" to receive suicide assistance from physicians. Catholics and many other citizens will pray that the Court has the wisdom to reject this latest attempt to enlist the Constitution to promote a culture of death.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference, together with State Catholic Conferences, and Protestant and Muslim groups, filed amicus curiae briefs in the two cases, one from New York and one from Washington State. The briefs asked the high court to overturn lower court rulings that struck down state laws against assisted suicide.
Gail Quinn, Executive Director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), said it is gratifying "to know that concerned people with disabilities have organized their own demonstration in front of the Supreme Court on the day of oral argument." Led by the disability rights group Not Dead Yet, Ms. Quinn said "they will speak to the fact that people coping with illness and disability need acceptance, respect and support -- not the misguided pity of euthanasia."
The President of the NCCB, Bishop Anthony M. Pilla, said in a statement issued last November that "the assisted suicide agenda appears as a victory not for freedom but for discrimination. At its heart lie demeaning attitudes and prejudices about the value of life with an illness or disability. All who believe in the dignity of human beings should reject such attitudes."
Said Ms. Quinn: "I hope that Catholics, especially those involved in pro-life and disability ministries, will participate in the demonstration before the Supreme Court."
The demonstration will take place from 10 am until noon on January 8, as the oral arguments are taking place.