Statement and Call to Action on Assisted Suicide Legislation
Statement and Call to Action by Bishop Burbidge and Bishop Knestout on Assisted Suicide
February 5, 2024
Legislation to legalize physician assisted suicide is moving rapidly in this year’s Virginia
General Assembly session. The Senate and House have both taken steps to advance this lethal
measure. Within the next week, floor debates in one or both chambers are likely to occur.
We are alarmed and deeply saddened by this development. Human life is sacred and must never
be abandoned or discarded. At this critical moment, we implore the faithful across our two
dioceses: Please contact your state Senator and Delegate. Urge them to reject assisted suicide
legislation, using the alert provided by the Virginia Catholic Conference. To access the alert,
click here: https://vacatholic.org/action-center/?vvsrc=/Campaigns/110256/Respond
Every suicide is a tragedy. Assisted suicide facilitates tragedies and makes the most vulnerable
even more vulnerable. Legalizing it would place the lives of people with disabilities, people with
mental illnesses, the elderly, and those unable to afford healthcare – among others – at
heightened risk of deadly harm.
In the few states where assisted suicide is legal, this troubling reality has already taken root. For
example, insurance companies have denied coverage for cancer treatment and other life-saving
procedures but offered to pay for cheaper suicide drugs instead. And in Oregon, only 3.3% of the
patients who died by assisted suicide since its legalization in 1998 were referred for psychiatric
People facing the end of life are in great need, and must be accompanied with great care and
attentiveness. To address each of their needs and alleviate their suffering, patients deserve high
quality medical, palliative, and hospice care – not suicide drugs.
Please tell the members of the Virginia General Assembly who represent you not to bring
assisted suicide to our Commonwealth.