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Vote hinders advancement of physician-assisted suicide

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In 2017, Del. Kaye Kory, D-Fairfax, requested that the state legislature examine the possibility of legalizing medical aid-in-dying, also known as physician-assisted suicide. The Joint Commission on Health Care studied the issue, and after a period of public comment, voted 10-6 Nov. 7 to take no action on the study.

“I was very pleased to receive the news that the Virginia Joint Commission on Health Care rejected efforts that might ultimately have led to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in our commonwealth,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge. “The commission received nearly 3,000 public comments against legalizing assisted suicide, and comments against assisted suicide outnumbered comments for assisted suicide 8-1! I thank the leadership of the Virginia Catholic Conference, the Arlington Diocese’s Office for Marriage, Family and Respect Life and so many citizens, especially among our Catholic faithful, for standing up for life!”

“The gift of life is something that should never be abandoned or discarded and that's the principal that was upheld by the joint commission,” said Jeff Caruso, executive director of the Virginia Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm of Virginia’s bishops. About 2,000 of the comments against assisted suicide were submitted through the VCC, he said. “We’re very grateful for all the people who submitted comments — it's clear their voices were indeed heard,” Caruso said.

Caruso calls the commission’s vote “very significant” in the fight against the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. “If the joint commission recommends something, that carries a lot of weight. It’s a very significant point we could cite should this come up in the future,” he said. Kory told the news outlet Virginia Mercury that she would not introduce legislation on physician-assisted suicide this year because she “does not see it as useful right now.”

Amy McInerny, diocesan director of respect life, said many local Catholics were following this issue closely. “I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten,” she said. “This is a victory for life but it's also a victory for the people of God who advocated in the public square. Our bishop called us to go out into the public square with the heart of Christ. We did it and we were heard, and Virginia is all the better for it. I hope people will stay engaged as this issue continues to develop.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018