Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Regional Report

the Inland Register

(From the June 20, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

Archdiocese of Portland

Reported deaths by doctor-assisted suicide in Oregon have reached an all-time annual high. In 2012, physicians in the state said that 77 terminally ill patients died by lethal overdose.

There has been a continual increase since Oregon voters narrowly legalized physician-assisted suicide in 1998. That year, only 16 patients took their lives.

Since the law began, 673 people have used it to die. Each year, many patients receive lethal drugs but do not use them.

Those troubled by the law continue to speak up. Mental health workers say too few patients considering suicide receive care for depression. In 2012, only two of the 77 people who died by suicide were referred for a psychiatric evaluation. Some patients have shown how the Oregon Health Plan would pay for suicides but not for medical treatment of their diseases.

A physician or other health care provider was present at the time of death in only 11 of the 77 deaths this year, leading Oregon Right to Life to report concerns about elder abuse, coercion and undue influence by family members and health care professionals. Circumstances are difficult to investigate, because state law blocks the public from accessing most information.

One new case of that troubles assisted suicide foes has come to light. The Montana Standard newspaper printed a letter from an Oregon primary care doctor who had referred a longtime patient to specialists for melanoma. Later, one of the specialists called the doctor back, not to consult on patient care, but to ask him to give a second opinion so assisted suicide could go ahead. The dismayed primary care doctor said no mental health assessment took place.

PORTLAND – A physicist and a priest-theologian spoke at the University of Portland April 10 and sought to debunk the notion that faith and science are at odds.

Shannon Mayer, professor of physics and mother of two children at nearby Holy Cross School, said faith and science approach the world in “complementary ways.”

Holy Cross Father Tom Hosinski, a professor of theology who has also studied science, says the two systems are different ways to approach the same truths.

Mayer told the group that while one field does not prove or disprove the other, observations and beliefs from faith exploration and scientific endeavor can “spill over” into one another and enhance both.

For example, physicists have found that the physical constants needed to keep the universe from either blowing apart or collapsing in on itself are phenomenally narrow. Were gravity only slightly different, or the charge of an electron just varied or the mass of a proton incalculably different, the universe might not exist.

For her, it’s a universe “finely tuned” for the bringing about of life. Science, she concluded, does not prove her faith, but does encourage it.

“People assume there is only one way to know the truth and science and religion compete for it,” Father Hosinski said, criticizing both religious fundamentalists and atheists. “No one way of looking at things exhausts all truth.”

While science tends to find the truth of processes, religion looks at meaning and purpose. Neither system can substitute for the other, Father Hosinski explained.

“If we accept both of them, we have a fuller understanding of why the kettle is boiling,” he said.

– Catholic Sentinel (Archdiocese of Portland)

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