Lawmakers kill assisted-suicide proposal

Eleven hours of heart-wrenching and passionate testimony on a state bill proposing physician-assisted suicide ended Feb. 6 when legislators rejected its passage.

Doctors, clergy, attorneys and people with terminal illnesses and disabilities delivered arguments and personal stories about perspectives on life and death before a vote was taken late that evening.

“What I’ve realized is people on both sides have experienced loss,” said Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, before giving a ‘yes’ vote. “This conversation is difficult because none of us exactly know what happens when we leave this earth.”

Lawmakers on the legislative committee voted down the “Death with Dignity” bill 8-5 after a hearing at the Capitol. But some expect the conversation over physician-assisted suicide will be resurrected next session.

Colorado Catholic Conference director Jenny Kraska said Coloradans must remain vigilant.

“The defeat of House Bill 1135 was a great victory for the people of Colorado,” she said in a statement. “But the fight to protect against the legalization of physician-assisted suicide is far from over. Our society will continue to see a push for this legislation all over the country and more than likely we will see it again in Colorado next year, either in the form of legislation, a ballot initiative or both. We must continue to stay vigilant and work to educate and inform our fellow Coloradans about the dangers of this type of legislation.”

She thanked all the people who testified in support of life and debated the true meaning of dignity.

Dr. Tom Newman testified that his son lived and died with dignity, and the bill would have confused the meaning of this.

“This bill dignifies suicide because it redefines it,” he testified to the committee. “The words ‘death with dignity’ is a ploy. It’s a political marketing tool … to sell to the public the comforting idea of physicians’ tacit approval of suicide given by lethal means.”

Kraska said the bill was modeled after the Oregon law that allows physician-assisted suicide and would have threatened the most vulnerable in society, including the elderly and disabled under the guise of “death with dignity.”

It was passed in Oregon in 1994 followed by Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico.

The bill in Colorado was drafted under the guidance of Compassion & Choices, formerly the Hemlock Society, to allow terminally ill residents access to life-ending drugs.

For information on this bill and other legislation, visit or call 303-894-8808.

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.

Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash