Physician Assisted Suicide

My homily today is not on the readings, which happens about once in a blue moon. With this Sunday being Respect Life Sunday, and the issue of Physician Assisted Suicide coming before our state legislature as it came before Massachusetts voters a few years back in 2012, when the question was defeated by the smallest margins, it’s imperative that we be made aware again of those who are trying to establish this horrible practice in our state. It’s back upon us, like a bad tasting meal.
Some state lawmakers are trying to legalize PAS, and doing so with financial backing from national organizations that have made Massachusetts a top priority. It’s essential that we be informed against the threat assisted suicide poses to the elderly, my favorite people in the world, to the disabled, also my favorite people in the world, and those who are dealing with serious illnesses, and how this all undermines the dignity of human life God has entrusted to us.
If a friend said to you, “Life is too hard for me, so I’m going to end it tonight,” would we just go along with it? Would we say, “Okay, if that’s what you want to do, let me help you accomplish the end of your life.” May God have mercy on my soul. This is not love by any stretch. And it’s not the answer God desires. We’re called to care for those are suffering, especially those with mental or physical disabilities, and not to leave them in despair.
Present in PAS is the potential for abuse of the elderly, my favorite people in the world. Imagine someone in your family telling you that you’re a burden, that you’re going to die soon anyway, and you need to make things easier for everyone and accept assisted suicide?
Or being diagnosed with a deadly disease, which some of us here have dealt with already, and the disease is very expensive to treat, your insurance company is not going to cover the cost of treatment, but they will cover the cheap cost of suicide drugs.
We’re a culture increasingly turning to suicide to end our suffering. In 2012, 4 states had suicide rates higher than 19 per 100,000 people; in 2016, the number jumped from 4 to 11 states with rates that high. And this does not include PAS, because those deaths are nor recorded as suicides. Which is just a dangerous mental game we play with ourselves to make ourselves look better. And not recording a suicide as suicide is part of the false narrative put forth by those who support it. Anytime the numbers have to be fudged, whether you’re buying a car, or with PAS, it’s a bad idea.
With advances today in medical technology and caring for levels of pain, it can be managed to the satisfaction of all involved, and I’ve witnessed this many times as priest. At the heart of PAS is the dignity of the human person. A disabled or frail person has equal dignity with a healthy person. Why is it that if a physically healthy person says they are suicidal we help them to live, thanks be to God. But if a disabled or frail person says the same thing, then we should help them to die? They also are people in need of caring, our support, and our compassionate love as well, love that mirrors the love of Christ. He went so far as to bring people back from the dead, rather than assist in their dying. They all have the same dignity.
We said “No” to assisted suicide back in 2012. Because of that, God allowed the Red Sox to win the World Series in 2013. I have no idea what’s gonna happen this year. But presently there are some state legislator who are trying to make PAS legal without asking the people of Massachusetts. They won’t do it, however, if we remind them that we said no once already, and we continue to advocate for better care of the seriously ill.
This practice must never be legalized in our state. We need to step up and contact our state legislators to let them know we do not want this horrendous practice legalized.
There are brochures about this attached to this week’s bulletin, as well as each entrance to the Church.
And we ask St. Joseph, the patron of a happy death, to intercede in this effort and for all of our prayers. Like the Red Sox, may we all step up to the plate and be willing to stop assisted suicide.