A Post Christmas Look Back at the Stories of Jesus" Birth

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 18 January 2006 0 Comments
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Dear Friends:

The Supreme Court's decision in the case of
Gonzales vs. the State of Oregon was announced
yesterday in favor of the State of Oregon's 'right to
die with dignity' laws and physician assisted suicide
under some carefully articulated guidelines. It was a
case in which I filed with the Supreme Court an amicus
brief in support of the State of Oregon. I had
previously written a column on this case that was
published on August 23, 2005, entitled "On Death with
Dignity." Subscribers may look it up and reread it if
they desire. When the decision was handed down I
issued the following statement to the press and
enclose it here in place of the Question and Answer
feature for this week. I think this is a decision of
great import and it received the lead position in the
New York Times' first page on January 18th. The Bush
Administration announced that it was "disappointed in
the decision" because, they said, Mr. Bush wants to
encourage "a culture of life." With over 2200
fatalities among American service personnel in the
Iraq War, over 16,000 wounded, over 30,000 Iraqi
deaths and more people executed in Texas than in all
the other 49 states put together while he was
Governor, I must say I wonder what he means by "a
culture of life." This is an issue I would love to see
debated publicly and in this column. I welcome your

John Shelby Spong


We rejoice that the Supreme Court has upheld Oregon's
aid-in-dying law. This decision affirms that states
can make policy decisions allowing individuals to
choose a dignified death under strict guidelines and

The recent enormous leap in medical knowledge prolongs
life beyond our ancestors" imagination, but these
advances also bring ethical dilemmas. We live longer
but often not better as we face excruciating terminal
illnesses. The choice to die under these circumstances
should come when the options for real living have
reached their limits.

Affirming choice as a human right at the last phase of
life requires a shift in thinking about death. Death
is not evil or sinful; rather, it is as natural as our
birth. Each of life's stages, including the last, must
be embraced with vigor.

I challenge those who see the Supreme Court's decision
as a harbinger of abuse




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