WASHINGTON (November 5, 1997) -- Cardinal Bernard Law, Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, called the decision by Oregon voters to retain the state law authorizing physician-assisted suicide "a tragedy for all Americans. Most of all it is a tragedy for seriously ill patients, who deserve better care for their real needs, not an invitation to suicide," he said.
The text of the statement by Cardinal Law is below:
"Oregon voters' decision to retain their state law authorizing physicians to assist suicides is a tragedy for all Americans. Most of all it is a tragedy for seriously ill patients, who deserve better care for their real needs, not an invitation to suicide. Oregonians will find that what some call a 'right to die' easily becomes a 'duty to die' once society labels some lives as not worth living.
Since Oregon voted to legalize assisted suicide in 1994, no other state has followed its lead--instead, more states have passed laws against the practice. There is no reason for any state to act differently now. Oregon has made itself a laboratory for testing a radical policy. It will discover what the experience of the Netherlands has already shown: This deadly experiment will do great harm to the helpless subjects it claims to help.
In the months to come, courts and legislatures must confront many unanswered questions about Oregon's law, such as whether its discriminatory treatment of sick and elderly citizens violates constitutional and other federal protections. Our nation will come to realize that assisted suicide has no place in a land committed to the inalienable dignity of each person. This is a time for Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs to work together to solve the real problems of terminally ill patients. By ensuring relief of pain, compassionate care and loving support, we can build a society in which physician-assisted suicide is irrelevant as well as illegal."