Watch out: For slippery slope in assisted suicide
There must be something about the month of January! It was in January of 1973 when the Supreme Court issued its Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion. In January of this year, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Gonzales vs. Oregon dealing with assisted suicide.
Roe vs. Wade may have caught some people by surprise. All of a sudden, state regulations against abortion no longer took precedence. Let's hope the same thing is not true on the issue of assisted suicide.
Gonzales vs. Oregon. What did happen with this recent ruling? Gonzales vs. Oregon concerned an appeal from the Bush administration on whether federally-controlled substances can be used to carry out assisted suicides. The directive to ban drugs for this purpose was initially issued in 2001 by former Attorney General John Ashcroft.
The Ashcroft directive was challenged by the State of Oregon, which allows doctors to use these drugs by issuing lethal prescriptions for the terminally ill. Both the federal court in Oregon and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down the Ashcroft directive.
According to the Nightingale Alliance which opposes assisted suicide (www.nightingalealliance.org), the high court had a unique opportunity to deal a serious blow to the practice of assisted suicide, not only in Oregon, but in any other state which pursues this route.
Doctors are supposed to be in the business of helping heal patients. With dying patients, doctors can help ease their pain and suffering - using what is termed "palliative" care. But outright killing of a patient is another matter.
The Supreme Court had a chance to make sure that dangerous drugs are only used for legitimate medical purposes. "Assisting the suicide of a patient has no medical purpose other than the death of the patient," pointed out Barbara Lyons of the Nightingale Alliance.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 on January 17 that the attorney general overstepped his authority under the Controlled Substances Act. The court said physicians who prescribe lethal drugs under Oregon's Death with Dignity Act cannot be prosecuted.
Stop assisted suicide. So what now? Will Oregon lead the way for other states which may legalize assisted suicide? California, for example, is considering such a bill.
One step is to revise the federal Controlled Substances Act to prohibit the use of regulated drugs in state-sanctioned assisted suicide. "In no sense can assisting a suicide be called a 'legitimate medical purpose' for any drug," noted Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "Congress now has an obligation to reaffirm that fact."
Concerned citizens should contact their congressional representatives to express support for revising the Controlled Substances Act. But beyond that, we should all be vigilant of any efforts to pass laws legalizing physician-assisted suicide in our state or any other state.
We must educate ourselves, stay on top of this issue, and make sure we avoid the slippery slope this time.
Mary C. Uhler
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Cathedral is 'mother church'
To the editor:
A letter to the editor by Mr. Patrick K. McDonald, Janesville (January 12 issue), following a similar letter by Dick Jaeger, Blanchardville (September 29, 2005) presents a well intentioned but misguided understanding of what a cathedral is and its role in the life of Catholics. Based on his understanding, he recommends that St. Raphael Cathedral not be
rebuilt and suggests instead that the diocese build a homeless shelter and food pantry at the site.
First and foremost, a cathedral (ecclesia cathedralis) as compared to a parish church is the "Mother Church" of a diocese, the center of Catholic life, and the principal place of worship for the Catholic community of faith. It serves as the foundation for uniting parishes and is the symbol of their ecclesial communion. The cathedral is the home of the bishop's cathedra, the chair from which he teaches as the chief shepherd, pastor, and teacher in a diocese.
St. Raphael Cathedral is not only a building of historical significance and a Madison religious and cultural landmark. The cathedral with its towering spire is the visible presence of Christ and his church in this city, near the state Capitol, to all politicians, legislators, and other people alike who daily visit the downtown area. It is also a visible reminder to all who come to Madison on business or leisure, as the capital city of Wisconsin, that a successor of the Apostles, our bishop, resides here and that the Catholic faith is well and alive in Madison.
It is our hope and belief that St. Raphael will be rebuilt in its present location. Moving the cathedral to a different location is not the solution. A solution to a declining number of priests could be found not in closing churches but in promoting vocations and encouraging the laity to take a more direct role in evangelization by assuming their responsibility to spread the Gospel of Christ bestowed on them in baptism and confirmation (Pope John Paul II's Christifideles Laici).
Jacek M. Cianciara, Madison
Doyle has record of service
To the editor:
Letters in the Mailbag (January 19 issue [online here and here]) demonized our governor. I know this about Jim Doyle as a person: He graduated from Harvard Law School and did not find employment with a big Wall Street law firm to line his pockets; he joined the Peace Corps. He later worked with the Bureau of Indian Affairs; no money there, either. He and his wife adopted two children and provided a good home for them; I cannot in good conscience lump him into a category of baby killer.
He has a long record of service for Wisconsin as district attorney, attorney general, and now governor. Do not blame Governor Doyle for the decision of Roe vs. Wade. Governor Doyle is interpreting the law in a manner consistent with the training he received as a lawyer.
I agree with Governor Doyle that allowing concealed weapons is a dangerous choice for Wisconsin. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which already guarantees us the right to bear arms, is firmly in place and not in danger of being repealed. I loath to belong to a society where, before I enter church on Sunday morning, we are reminded to check our weapons at the door.
Eileen Frank, Dodgeville
Find a place for Jesus
To the editor:
I was shopping at St. Vinnies in Lake Mills when I saw lying on a counter a porcelain Baby Jesus. I couldn't resist picking him up and holding the life size baby. I remarked to others that he needs a better setting - he needs to be near Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the wise men.
As I drove home, I began to think how powerful this Baby Jesus' birth was to all. My wish for all is to find a place in your hearts for him. Let Baby Jesus be loved, let him bring you new life, a life of hope, courage, and peace.
We began a new creation with him - we became connected to the divine nature through his Father's gift. We became like him - WOW! We can have miracles by believing. Our lives become precious, holy, and divine and we will never die. He makes the impossible, possible.
Close you eyes. Imagine holding Baby Jesus in your arms. Hold him close and find a place in your lives for him.
Mary Ann Steppke, Fort Atkinson