NEW YORK – With Gov. John Carney’s signature the only thing needed to make Delaware the 11th state to legalize assisted suicide, the state’s lone Catholic bishop is imploring people of faith to ask Carney to veto the “dangerous and immoral” legislation on his desk.

“We ask Delaware Catholics and all people of good will to contact Governor Carney and ask him to stand up for the elderly, sick and disabled, by vetoing this dangerous and immoral legislation,” Bishop William Koenig said in a June 26 statement. “We ask all Christians and those of other faith traditions to join the Catholic community in prayer for our Governor, that he will not allow Delaware to be the latest state to allow government sanctioned suicide.”

HB 140 was sent to Carney’s desk for his signature on June 25 after it passed the Delaware State Senate with an 11-10 vote. The state House passed the legislation in April on a 21-16 vote. It remains unclear if Carney, a Democrat who has previously opposed assisted suicide, will sign the legislation.

HB 140 mirrors other assisted suicide bills passed in other states. It would allow terminally ill people who have less than six months to live to request and self administer medication to end their lives, so long as two doctors certify that the patient is making an informed decision and acting voluntarily.

Koenig said that the diocese has consistently opposed the legislation because of the religious belief that all life is sacred and should be protected from conception until natural death. However, he argues that all people of good will, not just religious, should stand against the legislation.

“All people of good will should recognize that this bill encourages the most vulnerable (the aged, the dependent, those with disabilities) and those who need our care the most to see themselves as merely a burden for their loved ones and unduly influence a decision to end their life,” Koenig said.

Koenig also noted that often those deemed to be in their last months of life are suffering from depression of a treatable disease, and assisted suicide “becomes a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

“In reality, this ‘solution’ is never acceptable; there is no justification to take an innocent life,” Koenig said. “Furthermore, it is a violation of a central principle in the medical profession that one is called to heal and preserve life and ‘do no harm’ and turns those who should care for society’s health into agents of death.”

Assisted suicide is legal in eleven jurisdictions – California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, D.C. In addition to Delaware, at least five other states have assisted suicide legislation pending – Michigan, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.

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