For the next couple of weeks I would like to print the words of our fellow parishioner, Dr. Michael Napierkowski, M.D. FACS talk that he gave a couple of weekends ago regarding Proposition 106.

Soon, we will once more be given the opportunity to vote, to make our voices heard regarding the future of our nation and our state and local communities. I urge you in the strongest possible terms, when that time comes, to oppose Proposition 106, the ballot measure which would legalize physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia in Colorado.

As a physician who has spent the last 26 years of my life learning and applying the knowledge and skills necessary to cure illness and to alleviate pain and distress and who treats patients with incurable cancer regularly, I implore you not to confound the notion of eliminating suffering with that of eliminating those who suffer. We must not allow the culture of death to be given a greater foothold in our state.

The mission of medicine is truly at stake in this discussion, as ours is a profession that demands a single-minded commitment to the patient’s wellbeing. Confusion regarding this understanding born of a misguided instinct for compassion will lead to devastating and far-reaching consequences.

The Church’s teachings regarding this matter are clear and unequivocal: euthanasia is always wrong and is considered a grave evil. You may seek guidance from the Catechism of the Catholic Church for a simple summary of these matters, or, for a more thorough discussion regarding the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, consider reading St. Pope John Paul II’s beautiful and challenging encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).

But there are practical reasons that underpin the church’s wise opposition to measures of this kind. Years ago, when Jack Kevorkian began murdering patients, many with non-lethal conditions, expressing the same sentiments which undergird this dangerous proposition, I explained to my friends and family why I was opposed to this mistaken notion of compassion. I would like to convey to you now my several reasons, which my professional experience in the intervening 20 years has time and again reinforced:

1. As is so often the case, making an action legal will also convey a sense of sanction from the state. This will establish surrender in dire circumstances as a de facto virtue within our community. The impact of this attitude, not only on the ill and infirm, but on everyone who is marginalized or otherwise stricken by life’s often cruel twists, should not be underestimated. Will we be asserting, indirectly, that giving up when the chips are down is not only an option, but is often the best and most admirable one. Patients, especially those who are most ill or vulnerable, require an unbroken chain of providers fully committed to their recovery. If the mentality embodied in this measure is granted the cover of legal recognition, I assure you that many critically ill patients who could survive their illness will die, becomes some members of their care team will appeal to the misguided sense of mercy ratified by this proposition and refuse to participate fully in patient’s recuperation. Passing Prop. 106 will ingrain it so deeply in the culture that is will be difficult to expunge or to fight.