Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC) staff participated in a meeting held at the University of Notre Dame last week discussing strategies to increase access and improve the quality of Catholic schools. Diocesan superintendents and representatives of state Catholic conferences from across the country took part.
The ICC believes that Catholic schools, which are wrapping up National Catholic Schools Week, are a vital part of forming disciples of Jesus Christ as well as offering academic excellence. Iowa has about 100 Catholic schools with an enrollment of 25,500 students. Those schools employ 5,600 people across the state and pay about $120 million a year in salaries. The vast majority of these costs are covered by parents paying tuition and support from a parish budget.
One of the ICC’s goals is to increase access to Iowa’s schools by supporting public policies that assist parents. These policies might include education savings accounts, tax credits or other means. As the Iowa legislative session continues you’ll have an opportunity to help out with this issue.
The American Federation for Children released a poll last week showing that 70 percent of Americans express support for “school choice,” and that almost two out of three voters are more likely to vote for candidates who favor expanding school choice.
Doctor-prescribed suicide bill
A bill to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide was introduced last week in the Iowa Senate. SF 2051 would allow “terminal” patients (judged to die within six months) to find a physician who would prescribe drugs that the patient could take to end their life. For more information, go to the ICC website at www.iowacatholic
The ICC sees many problems with the legislation, and shares a couple thoughts on the bill:
• As a part of our religious faith, we believe that each and every person is created in the image and likeness of God. It’s not for us to decide when our life should end — that is up to God — but we respect the dying process. Many wrongly believe that the church says that life-support systems can never be removed. In fact, our teaching distinguishes between killing — which is an intentional action or omission to bring about one’s death or the death of another, and considered unacceptable — and allowing one to die, which is withdrawing treatment that no longer helps a patient and may actually be harming them.
• The ICC believes Iowans are fortunate to live in a time when many options other than doctor-prescribed suicide are available to address end-of-life pain. The ICC encourages the legislature to support additional resources for training and research in comprehensive palliative (pain-relieving) care.
As a practical matter, suicide is contagious. The state has Suicide Prevention Week for a reason. When people notice the state is supporting suicide as a good option for some people, others will look at suicide as a viable option. The ICC sees this in the increased suicide rate in Oregon, where they have state-approved assisted suicide. SF 2051 will be a priority to defeat but so far the bill isn’t moving.