By Jenny Kraska
Expecting the unexpected is usually the best course of action to take when approaching a new legislative session. While there are plenty of expected pieces of legislation there are always other issues that pop up seemingly out of nowhere. A new legislative session, much like the start of a new year, holds great possibilities and gives us the chance to begin with a clean slate and resolve to do more.
One of the most critical issues we will face during this new legislative session is physician assisted suicide. The first day of the session – January 13th – saw the introduction of two physician suicide bills: House Bill 1054 and Senate Bill 25. The dangers of this type of legislation cannot be underestimated. We have seen the devastating effects of this policy in States like Washington and Oregon that have routinely told terminally ill patients on their state-sponsored health systems that the program will no longer pay for prescription drugs or treatments that might be providing a good prolonged quality of life but will instead only pay for the more cost-effective option of a dose of lethal pills.
If we want to see the slippery slope of this policy in action look no further than Belgium which began the practice of physician assisted suicide over 30 years ago and has gone so far as to recently legalize the ability for children and dementia patients to be euthanized. Even more recently a lawsuit was filed against a Catholic Belgian nursing home for refusing to allow the family of one of its patients to kill (via euthanasia) the patient in their facility; now the courts of Belgium will be left to determine whether Church-run institutions have the right to refuse to be involved in euthanasia or be stripped of public funding.
There will be other very important issues that will arise during this legislative session and the Colorado Catholic Conference will keep you informed about all of these issues via our action alerts that you can sign-up to receive by visiting our website (www.cocatholicconference.org) and clicking on the button that says “Sign Up To Legislative Network”. But it is imperative that we act swiftly and with conviction to oppose physician assisted suicide. Please contact your representative and senator and express to them your opposition to physician assisted suicide in Colorado. Also consider attending a town hall meeting hosted by your elected officials; most officials will list any upcoming town hall meeting on their website. If you need help finding or accessing this information or have questions please don’t hesitate to contact our office.
The start of 2016 also marks the “official” start of a presidential election year which is sure to have an effect on politics here in Colorado. An election year is a time of great opportunity. It is an opportunity for all of us as Catholics and citizens to take our faith seriously and allow our voice and values to influence the public square. The unfortunate reality in society today is that too many people retreat from their responsibilities as is relates to participation in the public square. We have all heard the excuses “my vote doesn’t really matter”, “politics are too unsavory” or “there are no politicians that embody all the view that I do”. While at times these excuses can seem well founded; all the excuses in the world cannot absolve us from our duties to participate in the public square. There will be many opportunities to participate this year- from getting registered to vote, participating in the caucus, voting in the primary and finally voting in the general election. Please don’t forgot to remind your friends and family to do the same; together with one voice we can make a difference and we must not get discouraged or lose hope; as Padre Pio was fond of saying “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry”.