December 26, 2012
Self-described “Catholic columnist” Kathryn Lopez’ recent column was a lesson in hypocrisy.
The column talks about “why we should value religious freedom” by laying out a rambling attack on the Massachusetts initiative supporting death with dignity. The proposed law, modeled after the existing Oregon and Washington laws, allows terminally ill adults to obtain life-ending medications after a process carefully designed to ensure that the decision is made without haste or coercion. While I respect Kathryn’s right to follow her own religious beliefs, I absolutely reject her insistence that laws force everybody to follow her religious beliefs. This is not religious freedom. It is religious tyranny. The pilgrims came to this country to escape such tyranny.
Experience with the Oregon law, passed in 1994, has debunked the tired arguments against it described by Kathryn. I have studied this issue for decades and am a passionate believer in such laws, despite the strong opposition of the Catholic Church. I watched my mother, who had lost the battle against ovarian cancer and wanted to die with dignity, be forced to shrivel away as she starved to death. It was a horrible and inhumane death. I believe that competent, un-coerced, terminally ill adults have a right to choose their time of death. If any of your beliefs allow you no early exit, then follow your beliefs. Leave my choice to me.