Due to a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of its assisted suicide residency requirement, Oregon will no longer limit assisted suicide to residents of the state.

“This extremely disturbing development has nationwide implications,” said a statement from the Archdiocese of Portland. “It may allow terminally ill patients from other states, even states where assisted suicide is illegal, to obtain a lethal prescription from a physician in Oregon.”

Archbishop Alexander Sample issued a pastoral statement in response to this news.

“A terminally ill diagnosis is a heavy burden for those who receive it,” the archbishop counseled. “Death can be a frightening prospect. Coupled with suffering, it can be even more frightening. What is the proper human response in the face of death? How can we find meaning in an earthly existence that ends in death?

“Assisted suicide sows confusion about the purpose of life and death. It suggests a life can lose its purpose and death has no meaning. Cutting life short is not the answer to death. Instead of hastening death, we encourage all to embrace the sometimes difficult but precious moments at the end of life, for it is often in these moments that we come to understand what is most important about life. It is a time, for example, that can lead to healing and reconciliation among family members and elicit deep compassion from caregivers. What a gift! Our final days help us to prepare for our ultimate destiny.

“As people of faith, we believe our lives and our deaths belong in the hands of God, who created and sustains us. Through the suffering, death, and Resurrection of Jesus, we know that death is not the final word. Eternal life awaits all those who entrust themselves to God.

We stand in solidarity with all those who are suffering and dying, and all those who are struggling to find meaning in life. Don’t give up hope! We are with you. As friends, families, and neighbors we pledge to surround you with our love and compassion until the sacred moment when God calls you home. And together with you, we look forward to that day when God will wipe away every tear from our eyes and there will be no more mourning, no more suffering, and no more death (Rev. 21:4).”