The following comes from an March 28 Orange County Register article by Roger Smith:
Compassion and Choices, the nonprofit that has been advocating for the passage of the End of Life law, has maintained that terminally ill individuals should have the right to choose the time of their death.
But faith leaders with significant followings in Orange County say the legislation will do more harm than good. Several of them spoke at an April 11 conference at Servite High School in Anaheim sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange opposing Senate Bill 128, or the End of Life legislation. If passed, the law would give terminally ill Californians the right to end their lives with a lethal drug.
Even though the California law may be well-intentioned, whatever safeguards are built in likely will disappear with time, said Orange County Roman Catholic Bishop Kevin Vann at Saturday’s conference, titled “Dignity and Courage at the End of Life.”
Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren, who spoke on a panel at the event, warned people not to be apathetic about the issue.
“I oppose this law as a theologian and as the father of a son who took his life after struggling with mental illness for 27 years,” he said.
Matthew Warren, 27, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 5, 2013.
Warren gave several examples of episodes in the Bible where Moses, Elijah, Jonah and Job begged God to take their lives and put them out of their misery. But, Warren said, God denied each of their requests because he had bigger and better plans for them.
“The prospect of dying can be frightening,” he said, his voice cracking. “But we belong to God, and death and life are in God’s hands. … We need to make a radical commitment to be there for those who are dying in our lives.”
A few religious denominations remain ambiguous or go all out to support assisted death. The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles “does not have a position” on assisted death, said spokesman Robert Williams.
“We have a diversity of opinion among our church members,” he said. Williams added that some members are “very active” in Compassion and Choices, the nonprofit advocating for the End of Life bill.
The Unitarian Universalist Church has taken a position in favor of the law. Rev. Sian Wiltshire, minister at the Orange County Unitarian Universalist Church in Costa Mesa, said terminally ill individuals should have the right to choose.
“Our church affirms that life is a wonderful gift,” she said. “But we also believe that there comes a time when that gift is no longer useable. People have the right to do what is right for their bodies.”