Death With Dignity Advocates Say Most Catholic Voters Support The Right To Die


A proposed bill in California that would have allowed terminally ill patients the right to die failed to advance last week, and its failure has been largely attributed to the Catholic Church's vehement insistence that it violates God's will. But Toni Broaddus, California campaign director at Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit committed to "helping everyone have the best death possible," told HuffPost Live the church's opposition doesn't accurately representing its constituents.

Broaddus, whose organization sponsored the California bill alongside two state senators, explained to HuffPost Live's Nancy Redd last week that the majority of religious voters don't stand with Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez or the Catholic hierarchy in their opposition against the right to die.

"What we know in reality is that the majority of Catholic voters actually support it," Broaddus said. "The majority of Evangelical Christians actually support the bill. Protestants, Jews, people of all different religions support this legislation."

She added that even people whose moral or religious beliefs oppose the right to die don't believe they have the right to take the option away from other people.

"So I don't think in the end it's about religion at all," she said. "I don't think it's about partisan politics. I think it's a very personal issue for people."

California civil rights attorney Christy O'Donnell, who has stage IV lung cancer and sued the state in May for her right to die, told HuffPost Live she's spent hours speaking with the religious opposition to ensure her advocacy is well-informed. But if she can open a dialogue with them, she argued, they should be able to understand the truth about their congregations.

"If I can take the last hours -- literally -- of my life to sit down with these faith-based leaders, then these same leaders should reach inside themselves and be willing to admit that their constituency may not agree with their interpretation of religion," O'Donnell said. "That every human being has to do that for themselves."

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