A Voice Against Physician-Assisted Suicide
Health Progress. 1997 May-Jun; 78(3): 44-47.
In the early hours of November 14, 1996, Card. Joseph Bernardin died of pancreatic cancer. The Archbishop of Chicago approached death not in fear but as a "transition from earthly life to life eternal." One of his last public acts was writing a letter to the U.S. Supreme Court. He asked the justices to reject arguments that the dying have a right to physician-assisted suicide. In two powerful and poignant pages, the cardinal concisely summarizes the legal and policy arguments against legitimizing the purposeful facilitation of death by healthcare providers. CHA attached his letter to the amicus curiae brief it filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in Vacco v. Quill and Washington v. Glucksberg, the two physician-assisted suicide cases to be decided by the Court this term (see "CHA Amicus Curiae Brief on Physician-Assisted Suicide," p. 36). In this article we provide context for the thoughts expressed in Card. Bernardin's letter, excerpted below, and describe how this letter makes a persuasive legal argument against physician-assisted suicide.
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