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The Right to Die with Dignity

General Resolution

Guided by our belief as Unitarian Universalists that human life has inherent dignity, which may be compromised when life is extended beyond the will or ability of a person to sustain that dignity; and believing that it is every person's inviolable right to determine in advance the course of action to be taken in the event that there is no reasonable expectation of recovery from extreme physical or mental disability; and

WHEREAS, medical knowledge and technology make possible the mechanical prolongation of life; and

WHEREAS, such prolongation may cause unnecessary suffering and/or loss of dignity while providing little or nothing of benefit to the individual; and

WHEREAS, such procedures have an impact upon a health-care system in which services are limited and are inequitably distributed; and

WHEREAS, differences exist among people over religious, moral, and legal implications of administering aid in dying when an individual of sound mind has voluntarily asked for such aid; and

WHEREAS, obstacles exist within our society against providing support for an individual's declared wish to die; and

WHEREAS, many counselors, clergy, and health-care personnel value prolongation of life regardless of the quality of life or will to live;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the Unitarian Universalist Association calls upon its congregations and individual Unitarian Universalists to examine attitudes and practices in our society relative to the ending of life, as well as those in other countries and cultures; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That Unitarian Universalists reaffirm their support for the Living Will, as declared in a 1978 resolution of the General Assembly, declare support for the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, and seek assurance that both instruments will be honored; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That Unitarian Universalists advocate the right to self-determination in dying, and the release from civil or criminal penalties of those who, under proper safeguards, act to honor the right of terminally ill patients to select the time of their own deaths; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That Unitarian Universalists advocate safeguards against abuses by those who would hasten death contrary to an individual's desires; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED: That Unitarian Universalists, acting through their congregations, memorial societies, and appropriate organizations, inform and petition legislators to support legislation that will create legal protection for the right to die with dignity, in accordance with one's own choice.

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Last updated on Wednesday, August 24, 2011.

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