Less than a month after New York state passed legislation to increase access to abortion, the battleground has shifted to assisted suicide, with Catholic leaders trying to stem to the tide against legislation that would make physician-assisted suicide legal in New York.
“We stand on a precipice,” Kathleen Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for New York’s Catholic Conference, recently told New York conservatives, according to the Albany Times-Union.
“We’re looking in to a culture of death and our state is diving right down into that moral abyss.”
Dennis Poust, a spokesman for the state Catholic Conference headed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, told the New York Daily News that physician-assisted suicide “is not a Catholic issue.”
“It’s a human life issue,” Poust said.
“There are many opponents (of assisted suicide), including those who advocate for people with disabilities and patients rights and the elderly. We’re proud to be in a coalition that stands up for those who may be exploited at the end of life.”
Although blocking the legislation is a priority for Catholic leaders, the group Compassion and Choices is marshaling support for the legislation, seeking to capitalize on the swing represented by having all three parts of the Empire State’s government — governor, state Assembly and state Senate — under Democratic control.
New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act was reintroduced last month.
“Medical aid in dying is overwhelmingly supported by New Yorkers. Now we know it’s overwhelmingly supported by New York doctors. We will get this law passed in New York because it’s the right thing to do,” said Democratic Sen. Diane Savino, one of the bill’s major sponsors, in a Compassion and Choices news release.
“I don’t know what my decision would be if I were in that situation. But I do know I would want the option for me, my loved ones and all New Yorkers who want that option,” she said.
As New York prepares to move forward on its legislation, a ruckus has broken out in neighboring New Jersey over a similar bill there, according to The Washington Free Beacon.
A Democratic maneuver that allowed legislation supporting assisted suicide to clear New Jersey’s Senate Committee on Health, Human Services, and Seniors has been contested by the bill’s opponents.
Two Democrats who opposed the legislation were replaced by two Democrats who were in favor, The Free Beacon reported.
Dr. T. Brian Callister, the governor-elect of Nevada’s American College of Physicians and an opponent of physician-assisted suicide, said an ethics investigation is needed.
“It seemed very irregular – really a charade of a hearing with the outcome apparently a foregone conclusion,” Callister said told Fox News.
“The lack of transparency and the clear effort to silence opponents to physician-assisted suicide is an affront to our democracy at the most basic level.”
Marie Tasy, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life, said that there are still hurdles the bill must clear, told The Free Beacon that she is not giving up yet.
“There wasn’t any clamor for this legislation from New Jersey – it was a well-funded outside group,” she said. “Medical technology has advanced to alleviate suffering up to the point of death. This is dangerous legislation.”
“Our Governor and legislative leaders hail this new abortion law as progress. This is not progress. Progress will be achieved when our laws and our culture once again value and respect each unrepeatable gift of human life, from the first moment of creation to natural death,” the statement said.
“Would that not make us truly the most enlightened and progressive state in the nation?”
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