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Living Our Faith — Assisted suicide and palliative care

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Discussions of assisted suicide in the church today often view it both in light of the commandment against taking life and the same commandment’s implicit call to give loving, continuing attention to suffering people.

Opponents of the assisted suicide bill C-14 rally June 1, 2014, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario. Assisted suicide became legal this year in California and Canada. Those jurisdictions joined Oregon, Vermont, Montana and Washington state in allowing physicians to prescribe lethal drugs for patients who are believed to be close to death and have requested them. (CNS photo/Art Babych)
Opponents of the assisted suicide bill C-14 rally June 1, 2014, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario. Assisted suicide became legal this year in California and Canada. Those jurisdictions joined Oregon, Vermont, Montana and Washington state in allowing physicians to prescribe lethal drugs for patients who are believed to be close to death and have requested them. (CNS photo/Art Babych)

But in nearly every U.S. state, efforts continue in the legislatures, the courts or the court of public opinion to make assisted suicide a legal option.

Opponents of assisted suicide see the answer to those concerns in greater reliance on palliative care —medical care that reduces pain and symptoms of incurable cases.

Palliative care is not only for those close to death. It includes effective pain management and encompasses all of the family members and friends involved as caregivers for the patient.