The question of suicide facilitated by medical professionals, physician assisted suicide (PAS), has garnered a great deal of interest on this editorial page. While many of us have poignant stories to tell, anecdotes do not suffice when debating such crucial matters for society.
In the past, Editorial Page Editor Mr. Jon Alexander has rightly advocated for the importance of research in public policy. However, he seems to have set aside his own advice in this case. Not only did he inaccurately summarize Catholic doctrine and its development, but a careful look at the data from around the world would have revealed that, far from being a “red herring,” the “slippery slope” argument is based not on irrational fear, but on solid information.
When PAS or euthanasia is legalized, over time the practice becomes more widespread and more routine, and initial safeguards are more frequently set aside. Even involuntary euthanasia is being reported. In a political climate where programs to support persons who are older or with disabilities or medical needs are increasingly at risk, and in which health care is increasingly driven by the profit motive, we would do well to heed the lessons revealed by those who have already headed down this road. The legalization of PAS and euthanasia is the wrong path to take.
Francis L. Agnoli, M.D.
Editor’s note: Agnoli is director of liturgy, deacon formation of the Diocese of Davenport