Physician-Assisted Suicide is Back; Boston Archdiocese is Silent

In our next post, we will continue discussing the Pastoral Plan, Disciples in Mission, and the current problems and outlook for parishes.

Today, we discuss a bill to legalize Physician-Assisted Suicide, H1998,that  is about to come up for hearings with the Massachusetts Healthcare Committee on December 17.  This measure is much worse than the measure narrowly defeated at the ballot box in 2012. Ideally, it would be rejected in committee and no move on to a full legislative vote.  Mass Citizens for Life sent out an alert about the measure last week.  What have the Catholic bishops in MA or the Mass Catholic Conference said about this?    Nothing.    In fact, the Mass Catholic Conference has said not said a thing about any issue to people who follow their news alerts  in the past 9 months.  Silencio.  BCI questioned the capabilities and competency of the MCC head, James Driscoll, hired in 2011, and our reservations about him then have been proven valid.

Here is the MCFL notice:

The hearings of the Health Care Committee on H-1998, Doctor-Prescribed Suicide are definitely on for Tuesday, Dec 17th from 10am to 1pm in Room A-1 at the State House.  If there are a lot of people, they may extend the time.

There are 18 committee members.  Three of them are definitely with us and another is a possibility.  The rest take pro-abortion positions but are unknown on DPS.  This is a finger-in-the-dike operation.  The dike will not break this week, but…

This session the bill did not get out of committee in Maine and Connecticut.  In NJ it is out of committee but will not be voted on.

Vermont passed DPS in May.  It is a complete mess up there with the hospitals all opted out.  Almost every doctor practices at a hospital and is paid by the hospital, no pharmacists will participate.  So far, no one has used DPS and our people are hoping to repeal.  The situation is so bad that the lobbyist working on our side in Vermont has asked to address the MA committee on the 17th.

You need to know that H – 1998 is much worse than Question 2.  There is now no waiting period.  If a doctor or facility will not write a prescription, they must find another doctor or facility to write the prescription.  These people lost the ballot question but will never go away.

What can you do?

1) Read: Doctor Prescribed Suicide–this is not going away

2)  Plan to testify on the 17th or to submit written testimony.
Stress that this is dangerous and poor public policy.  Pick one or two of the things that strike you as really dangerous and write your testimony around them

Here is what the Massachusetts Patients Rights Council says about this measure:


On Tuesday, November 6, 2012, Massachusetts citizens defeated a measure (Question 2) that would have permitted doctor-prescribed suicide.  The ballot question cannot be put before voters again until 2018.  However, assisted-suicide advocates indicated that they would try once again to address the issue in the legislature.

On January 16, 2013, Representative Louis L. Kafka — who has introduced other doctor-prescribed suicide bills that failed — filed the “Massachusetts Compassionate Care for the Terminally Ill Act” (H 1998).  H 1998 is still pending.

Patterned on the Oregon and Washington assisted-suicide laws, the bill differs, in part, with those laws, creating additional loopholes that place vulnerable patients at risk.

The bill:

  • has a provision permitting a physician to dispense a lethal prescription without requiring a second physician to affirm the patient’s diagnosis and prognosis.  [Section 7 (2) (a)]
  • does not require that the prescribing physician refer a depressed or mentally ill patient for a psychiatric or psychological consultation unless the physician believes that the patient’s depression or mental illness is causing impaired judgment. [Section 8]
  • does not require any waiting period between the time the patient is diagnosed with a terminal condition and the time the lethal dose is prescribed.  It requires only one written request without any mandated oral requests.  [Section 3] requires two people to witness the written request.  However one of those witnesses can be a relative, an heir, or the employee of a health care facility where the patient is receiving medical care or is a resident. [Section 3 (3)]
  • may permit an appointed health care agent to request the lethal dose on behalf of the patient.  Massachusetts law provides that a health care agent “shall have the authority to make any and all health care decisions on the principal’s behalf that the principal could make.” [M.G.L.A. 201D § 5]
  • Nothing in the bill explicitly prohibits a health care agent from making the written request on behalf of the patient.

Therefore, as written, the Massachusetts bill would permit a physician to:

 Determine (correctly or incorrectly) that a patient has a terminal condition and, even though the patient is depressed, does not have impaired judgment;
Write the lethal prescription on the same day as the diagnosis, based on the patient’s written request which was witnessed by the patient’s emotionally controlling spouse and a close friend of that spouse.

Clearly this is a bad measure that needs to be stopped.  Why is MCC saying nothing about this?  Why did MCC say nothing about gambling this year?  What is MCC Executive Director, James Driscoll actually doing these days, and what has he done for the past two and a half years to justify his excessive six-figure salary?  (Driscoll had only worked in state government prior to his appointment at MCC and has acknowledged coming into his first job in state government out of college by virtue of his father, John T. Driscoll, a former House member and Chair of the Mass Pike. He is, coincidentally, the brother-in-law of Kathleen Driscoll, Jack Connors’ hand-picked Secretary for Institutional Advancement, and James Driscoll was chosen by Fr. Bryan Hehir).

If you want to find out what MCC is doing and why we have heard nothing from them in 9 months, write to James Driscoll <> and Peter McNulty <> at MCC and ask them what is going on.  Let us know what you hear.

10 Responses to Physician-Assisted Suicide is Back; Boston Archdiocese is Silent

  1. D Paul says:

    Once it was noted and acknowledged that Grasso was being paid a salary of 350K and brought in from the Boston Public Schools, you had to know that something was up. These are political appointments pure and simple. If Ted Kennedy was accepted as a faithful Catholic by Cardinal Sean in a shameful funeral, then you have to know of the blending of the Democratic Party with church leadership. This is the church of inclusion and Teilhard de Chardin who believed in the evolution of the Church into a “bottom up” leadership model which is Marxist in nature. Now Cardinal O is one of eight cardinals on the “borad of directors” for the new pope. Cardinal Dolan was vilified indirectly by the new pope as an “ideologue” and the “trickle down economics” of Ronnie Reagan was literally attacked. The Church as well as American society has lost its economic common sense. The Church will pull the plug on both Cardinal Burke of St. Louis and the elderly. This is an entitled age and the elderly and unborn babies are both in the way of economic development in spite of 350K salaries and a slap at two faithful nuns who were filling her slot.

  2. David S. says:

    The Massachusetts Catholic Conference must have just read this Blog posting.

    About 5 minutes ago I got a Legislature Update email from the MCC in which they discuss:

    Health Curriculum Frameworks
    Death with Dignity
    Educational Opportunities for (undocumented) High School Graduates

  3. Faithful Catholic says:

    Pretty amazing! I just got an MCC notice as well–within hours after the BCI post–after nothing almost all year from MCC. Can’t just be coincidence. Nicley done once again, BCI!

  4. Faithful Catholic says:

    I just read the entirety of the MCC notice. They don’t say what’s bad about the new Physician Assisted Suicide in their email, as BCI has posted. Worse than that, they are lobbying for in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. “The Catholic Church has long supported equality and justice for the undocumented immigrant.” Where’s this come from? In-state tuition is funded by taxpayer dollars. So, our Catholic bishops favor violating federal law?

    MCC said:

    Educational Opportunities for High School Graduates

    A hearing will be held on December 11, 2013 at 1:00 PM in room A-2 at the State House before the Joint Committee on Higher Education regarding legislation that would provide in-state tuition for the children of undocumented immigrants. The Catholic Church has long supported equality and justice for the undocumented immigrant. This legislation, if enacted, would allow the children of undocumented immigrants who have been accepted to a public college or university in the Commonwealth and have graduated from high school in the commonwealth to pay the same tuition rates and fees as other residents of the Commonwealth.

    Federal Law:

    In 1996, Congress passed–and President Bill Clinton signed into law–the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. Under Section 1623 of the law, state colleges and universities are prohibited from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens “on the basis of residence within the State” unless the same in-state rates are offered to all citizens of the United States.

    “By circumventing the requirements of § 1623 these states are violating federal law, and the legal arguments offered to justify such actions are untenable, no matter what other policy arguments are offered in their defense,” von Spakovsky and Stimson write. Which states are on the list? The offenders include California, Texas, New York, Utah, Washington, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, Maryland, and Connecticut.

    Despite these violations, the federal government is doing nothing about it, all while the Justice Department has brought action against Arizona and Alabama for assisting in the enforcement of federal immigration law. Meanwhile, President Obama’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement department announced over the summer relaxed standards for pursuing and dismissing immigration cases.

    Apart from being illegal, granting in-state tuition to illegal aliens isn’t at all popular with the American people, either. A poll conducted in August shows that 81 percent of voters oppose providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens–and with good reason. For starters, the cost of doing so is breaking an already strained bank. In 2005, the cost of providing in-state tuition in California was between $222.6 million and $289.3 million; in Texas, it was estimated between $80.2 million and $104.4 million. Von Spakovsky and Stimson note that the policy has other serious flaws, as well:

    Granting financial preference to illegal aliens also discriminates against otherwise qualified citizen students from outside the state. Furthermore, states that offer in-state tuition to illegal aliens act as a magnet for more illegal aliens to come to the state. Arguments to the contrary are unpersuasive, and not supported by the facts.

    The core issue, though, is the Constitution and the rule of law. And while the United States welcomes immigrants, it is also a country of laws, and there are limits imposed on those who seek citizenship. States cannot cast aside those laws where they see fit, as von Spakovsky and Stimson explain:

    Americans take pride in their heritage and this country’s generous policies regarding legal immigration. Yet, as citizens of a sovereign nation, Americans retain the right to decide who can and cannot enter this country—and what terms immigrants and visitors must accept as a condition of residing in the United States. As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, Congress sets America’s immigration policy. State officials have considerable influence in Congress over the crafting of immigration laws, and they may take steps to help enforce federal law. However, state officials cannot act contrary to a congressional statute.

    The Supreme Court has held that “The states have no power, by taxation or otherwise, to retard, impede, burden, or in any manner control, the operations of the constitutional laws enacted by Congress to carry into execution the powers vested in the general government.” Unfortunately, in offering illegal aliens in-state tuition in violation of federal law, that is exactly what these states are doing.

    I am going to write to MCC and ask them to withdraw their support for this immediately.

    • The USCCB doesn’t care about Federal law, Canon law or, for that matter,any law. They act as if they and the Church are beyond any accountability. (Just think of Cdl. Wuerl and Canon 915, and Pope Benedict’s refusal to discipline him.) If that’s not true, then how do you explain their behavior when the clerical sex-abuse crisis broke at the turn of this century?

      The Catholic Church is an institution of, by and for the bishops. The laity and lower clergy don’t matter. Orthodoxy doesn’t matter. Hell, not even the Triune God matters! It has been so for centuries; otherwise, St. Peter Damian would never have published “Liber Gomorrahianus” and St. John Chrysostom never would have said, “the floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.”

      All this business about a “preferential option for the poor,” frankly, sounds like the modern equivalent of the “white man’s burden.” It’s just as condescending. It’s just as likely to reinforce an arrogant attitude among its adherents, an attitude that reinforces their power under the guise of “charity.”

  5. Bemused says:

    In-state tuition for illegal aliens? My niece from New Jersey just graduated from UMass Amherst. She paid (or rather her parents paid) almost $40K per year because she was an out of state student.

    In retrospect, my niece should have renounced her US citizenship, moved to Mexico, illegally re-entered the US, and moved to Amherst. Then as an illegal alien, she could have gotten her degree for half of what it cost her as an out of state student.

  6. Time for a Change says:

    If Jack Cardinal Connors appointed Jim to this position he must be the right guy. BCI, How dare you question your Archbishop. Obey and pay.

  7. Michael says:

    BCI is the policy arm of the archdiocese … whether or not … the Archdiocese likes it.

    And BCI’s readers are obviously very informed (from reading their outstanding, clear, and factual comments).

  8. saintpio1 says:

    GO  TO    THE   TOP –   Don’t mess around with humans.  They have no power against the devil.   Go to the TOP   and ask GOD    to help us  defeat the devil. That’s really what you are asking the Bishops to do.  Forget them!   GO   TO   THE   TOP  MAN!!!

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