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Eye On Olympia

Spokane diocese on I-1000…

The Catholic Diocese of Spokane is one of those taking sides in the assisted suicide measure that proponents are trying to get on the ballot this year.

In a recent letter to parishioners, Spokane Bishop William Skylstad urged church members not to sign the petitions to put the measure before voters.

I-1000, modeled on Oregon’s unique death-with-dignity law, would allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication to competent, terminally ill patients who request it. Among its backers: former Gov. Booth Gardner, who is suffering the effects of Parkinson’s disease.

Proponents call the measure a carefully-safeguarded way to give dying people who want it a say in their departure from life. And it’s not suicide, they argue, for an already-dying person to choose how and when to go.

“Certainly we do have fears about death, pain, the resulting loss of control in our lives, and becoming a burden on others,” Skylstad wrote. “We recognize these fears as part of our existence, yet in embracing the Resurrection of Christ we can confront these challenges and live in faith and hope.”

The letter also urges church members to discuss the measure with their friends and neighbors – and provides several talking points. Among them: that the measure would mushroom into euthanasia, threatening disabled people and doctors’ role as healers.

Look for lots more of this debate between now and Election Day. Initiative 1000 is well-funded and highly likely to make it to the ballot. Similar debates in other states – only Oregon’s has passed – were emotional, expensive and hard-fought.


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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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