WASHINGTON - Cardinal Seán O'Malley of Boston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, warned of an "alarming trend nationwide" after Vermont legalized physician-assisted suicide, May 20. He called for "all people of good will to fight the future passage of such laws."

"I echo Bishop Matano of Burlington in calling this a tragic moment for Vermont. It is also a sign of an alarming trend nationwide. In the three states where physician-assisted suicide is now legal, doctors are called upon to destroy life, rather than to save life and provide much-needed comfort in times of pain and distress," Cardinal O'Malley said.

"The new Vermont law omits some of the alleged minimal 'safeguards' against abuse found in the Oregon law, and in three years drops those which remain," Cardinal O'Malley said. "Oregon's law was already more designed to cover up abuses than prevent them. Now, in the name of autonomy and empowerment, patients in Vermont who cannot speak for themselves may become the victims of this deadly law."

"The 'slippery slope' that critics of the euthanasia agenda have long warned against is in full view here," Cardinal O'Malley said. "I invite Catholics and all people of good will to fight the future passage of such laws, which offend human dignity and undermine true respect and care for people with serious illness."

In 2011, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on assisted suicide, "To Live Each Day with Dignity." The full text, as well as information on the Catholic Church's advocacy on end-of life issues, is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/assisted-suicide/to-live-each-day