HEALTH

Survey: Nearly 70 percent of U.S. Hispanics agree with physician-assisted death

Daughter holding her mother hand, that injected with IV  in hospital

Daughter holding her mother hand, that injected with IV in hospital  (©Rudyanto Wijaya)

 According to a new online survey by Nashville-based LifeWay Research, a company that offers tools to measure how churches and Christian ministries are helping the needs of their congregations, 69 percent of Hispanics agree it is morally acceptable for terminally-ill patients to ask their doctors for help in ending their lives.

The findings are not sitting well within the Catholic community, whose pull among Latinos has been dwindling steadily in the last decade.

“To say that we have the right to death is shocking to hear. As a person who believes in an afterlife, I believe death is a tragedy,” said Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a radiologist in the Miami area and advisory board member of The Catholic Association.

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“It diminishes all of us when we lose someone. To think about making the passage in a hurry is shocking to me,” she added.

But the trend is there.

Compassion & Choices is one of the leading organizations in the U.S. working to improve patient rights and individual choice at the end of life. Its National Latino Communications Manager, Patricia González-Portillo, told Fox News she’s personally committed to educating Latinos about end of life options for the terminally ill.

“I’m a Catholic and I lost a brother to cancer. I made a promise to Miguel that I wouldn’t stop working on this issue. He said 'I’m going to be gone, but I want you to keep carrying this on.' I made a promise to a man who was dying. At the end of the day I’m getting a message to my people,” González-Portillo said.

The LifeWay survey comes to light a few months after the case of Miguel Carrasquillo, a 35-year-old Catholic who lived in Puerto Rico and died from an aggressive form of brain cancer back in June.

He suffered from headaches, unbearable pain, blackouts and electric shocks through his body. But until the end of his life in June, he was an advocate of physician-assited dying, urging Puerto Rican legislators and those from his former home states of New York and Illinois to pass medical aid-in-dying laws.

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In Puerto Rico physician-assisted deaths are not allowed under any circumstance.

The official position of the Catholic Church is strict. “As a Christian we talk a lot about a right to life, and as humans we have rights because of our humanity,” said Dr. Pozo Christie.

According to the Pew Research Center, 55 percent of Hispanics in the U.S. identified themselves as Catholic in 2013, down from 67 percent in 2010.

Dr. Christie says there’s complacency on the Catholic side in talking about things.

“We’ve already discussed this. We say ‘from conception to natural end,’ but we’re assuming that people understand that and agreed on it and that we don’t need to keep explaining it. But as it is gaining traction in the world, people are afraid to bring it up and ruffle feathers. The Church needs to do better,” she said.

 

Rebekah Sager is a writer and editor for FoxNews.com. She can be reached at rebekah.sager@foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebekah_sager.