PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — As a young California woman gained national attention for her plan to use Oregon’s assisted suicide law, Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland issued a statement saying the Oregon law puts forward illusion and confusion.
At the start of 2014, newlywed Brittany Maynard learned she had brain cancer. A few months after she underwent two surgeries, doctors delivered the news that the cancer had returned and that most patients die from such tumors in about a year. She decided against further treatment.
Maynard, 29, and her husband moved to Oregon, ostensibly to become legal residents of the state and thus able to take advantage of its assisted-suicide law. She had planned to take a legal overdose after her husband’s late October birthday, on Nov. 1. Now, though, according to CBS News, she wants to wait and see how the disease progresses.
In an essay for CNN, Maynard said she had considered hospice care but opted instead for assisted suicide. In late October, she and her husband visited the Grand Canyon. It was the last item on Maynard’s “bucket list” of things she said she wants to do before she dies.
“I want to die on my own terms,” Maynard wrote in an October blog post. She announced her plans on YouTube and became a spokesperson for Compassion and Choices, the pro-assisted suicide group that emerged from the Oregon debates of the 1990s.
Archbishop Sample said the church stands in solidarity with people who are suffering and dying and with those who are struggling to find meaning in life.
“Don’t give up hope!” the archbishop wrote. “We are with you. As friends, families and neighbors we pledge to surround you with our love and compassion until the sacred moment when God calls you home.”
In the statement, offered just before the feasts of All Saints on Nov. 1 and All Souls on Nov. 2, the archbishop said assisted suicide offers the illusion that humans can control death.
“It suggests that there is freedom in being able to choose death, but it fails to recognize the contradiction,” the archbishop said. “Killing oneself eliminates the freedom enjoyed in earthly life. True autonomy and true freedom come only when we accept death as a force beyond our control.”
In 1997, Oregon became the first U.S. state to allow doctors to prescribe lethal overdoses. Four other states have since passed similar laws.
“Life is a gift from God, and we have only one opportunity to live the life we have been given,” the archbishop said. “Every moment of life is precious, and every moment of life worth living.”
Assisted suicide “sows confusion about the purpose of life and death. It suggests that a life can lose its purpose and that death has no meaning. Cutting life short is not the answer to death,” Archbishop Sample added.
“Instead of hastening death, we encourage all to embrace the sometimes difficult but precious moments at the end of life, for it is often in these moments that we come to understand what is most important about life. Our final days help us to prepare for our eternal destiny.
Langlois is a staff writer at the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Veterans find help to heal their emotional wounds at Franciscan center
NEXT: Ave Maria U. gets temporary relief from HHS mandate
Share this story