Life Issues

Abortion, Assisted Suicide Euthanasia and Capital Punishment

Principles for Action
All human life is a gift from God. We must confront a culture that honors violent solutions to complex social issues – abortion to address difficult pregnancies, euthanasia and assisted suicide to deal with age and illness, and the death penalty to combat crime. In their 1995 Pastoral Letter, "At Home in the Web of Life," the Catholic Bishops of Appalachia counter this "Culture of Death" with a vision of a "Culture of Life." They write that this struggle of all society between a culture of death and a culture of life is also played out at the intimate level in personal relationships. Here the culture of death invades our very souls through addictions and co-dependencies, often leading to abuse and violence, especially against women and children.

And, they could have added, "the ill and elderly." The bishops decry "a new selfishness spreads across the land, and not only in Appalachia," which touches individuals in such policies as:

- abandonment of the poor,
- increase of racism and scape-goating,
- demands for more and more guns,
- growing use of the death-penalty,
- campaigns for abortion and euthanasia,

The West Virginia Catholic Conference evaluates legislative priorities using a theological and ethical framework that protects human life and promotes human dignity from life's inception to its natural end.

Suggested Policy Directions

We call for policies that -

  • Respect and protect the right to life of every person – the unborn, the terminally ill, and the person convicted of crime;
  • Oppose public funding of abortion to protect the religious freedom of those opposed to abortion;
  • Urge the state to provide and adequately fund programs that assist children and pregnant women, especially the poor;
  • Oppose any attempt to legitimize or fund euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide;
  • Affirm public policies that respect the life and dignity of the dying including pain management and palliative care;
  • Protect the unborn, the elderly and the terminally ill in welfare and health care policies;
  • Oppose any attempt to reinstate the death penalty in the State.