The specter of assisted suicide is leading people to "fear an institution that should be the last thing they should ever fear -- a hospital," said Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith.
As legislative proposals for doctor-prescribed suicide become more prevalent, the Catholic bishops of Iowa have organized a statewide effort to promote an awareness about end-of-life care aligned with Catholic teaching.
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Assisted suicide will remain illegal in New Jersey. The Senate's legislative session expired Jan. 12, ensuring a bill that would have legalized the practice, would not come to a vote.
California's bishops expressed disappointment with Gov. Jerry Brown's Monday signing of a measure legalizing physician-assisted suicide in the state, saying the law "stands in direct contradiction to providing compassionate, quality care for those facing a terminal illness."
"This bill does nothing to validate the lives of the vulnerable," said the California Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state's bishops, in a statement soon after Brown's action.
Physician-assisted dying will become legal in California under a bill signed into law on Monday by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.
The law, based on a similar measure in Oregon, allows terminally ill people to seek a doctor’s prescription for a lethal medication. As in Oregon, two doctors must agree the person has only six months to live and is mentally competent.
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Right-to-die legislation passed a milestone in California on Thursday when the state Senate approved a bill to legalize physician-assisted dying in a 23-14 vote.
The End of Life Option Act now moves to the state Assembly, where it faces two subcommittees before a full Assembly vote. If it passes there, Gov. Jerry Brown has not yet said whether he would sign the bill, which would make California the most populous state to allow physicians to write lethal prescriptions for dying patients.
More than a dozen states, plus the District of Columbia, are considering controversial medically assisted death legislation this year.
The laws would allow mentally fit, terminally ill patients age 18 and older whose doctors say they have six months or less to live to request lethal drugs.
Oregon was the first state to implement its Death with Dignity Act in 1997 after voters approved the law in 1994, and four other states -- Montana, New Mexico, Vermont and Washington -- now allow for medically assisted death.