Catholic Medical Association Concerned After Catholic New Jersey Governor Signs Assisted Suicide Bill

Jill Blumenfeld

April 17, 2019 – The Catholic Medical Association is concerned and disappointed after New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Catholic himself, signed The Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act into law.

CMA President Dr. John Schirger, acknowledging the dignity in each unique life—created and loved by God—expressed opposition to this bill, and any means of ending one’s life unnaturally.

“The CMA remains dedicated to the protection of life from its beginning at conception to its natural end. Whether caring for an infant or providing compassionate palliation at the end of one’s life, we must never abandon a patient at any stage.” said Dr. Schriger.

The bill, signed on April 12, allows adult patients in New Jersey—whose physicians determine have six months or less to live—to “obtain and self-administer medication to end their lives…”

"Physician-assisted suicide violates a sacred trust that we as healers must never break. Additionally, it contradicts more than 2400 years of the foundation of medical ethics, the Hippocratic Oath, which specifically proscribes giving a patient poison even if they ask for it,” said Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, New Jersey State Director for the CMA.

“Every physician knows that the ability to definitively predict a patient’s progression unto death is tenuous at best. The role of the physician is not to abandon a patient to death, but to caringly walk with the patient through that uncertainty, alleviating suffering, while providing every opportunity for meaningful living as one prepares for death,” said Dr. Greg Burke, Co-Chair of CMA’s Ethics Committee.

On his official Twitter page, Governor Murphy indicated his action made New Jersey the eighth state to allow patients to "make their own end-of-life decisions – including medical aid in dying." Murphy added “We must give these patients the humanity, respect, and compassion they deserve.”

“Patients, in fact all persons, deserve respect and compassionate and humane treatment. Data demonstrate persons seek physician assisted suicide due to the fear of the loss of human dignity; but physicians providing such assistance is inhumane and the antithesis of compassionately respecting human dignity. It is the ultimate abandonment of the patient and the duty to provide care and to do no harm,” said Dr. Marie Hilliard, Co-Chair of CMA’s Ethics Committee.

With New Jersey’s bill set to go into effect on August 1st, The CMA is urging health care providers, citizens, and Catholics in the state to express concern over this dangerous law.

The Catholic Medical Association is a national, physician-led community of over 2,300 healthcare professionals consisting of 102 local guilds. CMA mission is to inform, organize, and inspire its members, in steadfast fidelity to the teachings of the Catholic Church, to uphold the principles of the Catholic faith in the science and practice of medicine.

Jill Blumenfeld
Communications Manager
Catholic Medical Association
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
W: 484-270-8002

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