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EUTHANASIA/ What happens when The New York Times joins forces with the Catholic Church

ANDREA STAITI comments on the referendum in Massachusetts on “assisted suicide”, the surprising voices against it, and the progressaholics who voted in favor of it.

Archbishop Dolan of New York  (Infophoto) Archbishop Dolan of New York (Infophoto)

On 6 November, in conjunction with the presidential election, Massachusetts voters were asked to vote on so-called “assisted suicide”. The result of this vote has been passed over in silence, a bit because it was obscured by the enthusiasm for the re-election of Obama, and a bit because it is in sharp contrast to the unstoppable “progressive” reforms in the area human rights. 51 percent of voters in Massachusetts voted no to assisted suicide.

This result is particularly symbolic considering the fame of Massachusetts as the most liberal state in America and also considering the fact that both gay marriage (Maryland and Maine) and the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes (Colorado) were approved in these elections.

This is undoubtedly a major victory of reason over ideology, and one which puts a stop to any future initiatives to introduce assisted suicide by any means other than a referendum.

On the other hand, it is necessary to consider the other side of the coin: the 49 percent of voters who were in favor of the bill. This means, as the promoter of the referendum said afterwards, that the bill was defeated by a hair and that the opinion of such a large slice of the population cannot be ignored. Something will be done.

There is a particularly shocking fact behind this 49 percent of voters. One would expect the Catholic Church to be the only dissenting voice in a referendum like this one, in sharp contrast to the secular intelligentsia (newspapers, medical associations, intellectuals, etc.), which would be deployed en masse in favor. But not this time. All of these bodies agreed that to vote against the bill because the law was poorly written and open to disturbing scenarios and incompatible with the ethics of the medical profession. For once, the American Medical Association, the Massachusetts Medical Society, and even the New York Times (with a beautiful editorial by the disabled Ben Mattlin who wrote: “I am more than my diagnosis and my prognosis”) were on the same side as the Catholic Church! When even the very secular Boston Globe, a few days before the vote, published an editorial siding against assisted suicide, a friend wrote me an email saying simply: “Wow, I cannot believe it!”.

The unexpected convergence between the Catholic Church and institutions usually fiercely critical of it is a remarkable fact that testifies to the objectivity of reason when it is used non-dogmatically. Both those who reflected from a religious point of view, and those who reflected from a purely scientific point of view, seem clearly to have seen the same thing this time: suicide is a tragic loss and not an ethical finish line.