When California Governor Edmund Gerald “Jerry” Brown, Jr. signed into law ABx2 15, legalizing assisted suicide in the state, he issued the following statement explaining the reasoning behind his decision:
In his 1993, John Paul II had this to say about the kind of examination of conscience through which Governor Brown would become “certain” about the comfort that the law would provide him and others:
Certain currents of modern thought have gone so far as to exalt freedom to such an extent that it becomes an absolute, which would then be the source of values…The individual conscience is accorded the status of a supreme tribunal of moral judgment which hands down categorical and infallible decisions about good and evil. To the affirmation that one has a duty to follow one’s conscience is unduly added the affirmation that one’s moral judgment is true merely by the fact that it has its origin in the conscience. But in this way the inescapable claims of truth disappear, yielding their place to a criterion of sincerity, authenticity and “being at peace with oneself”, so much so that some have come to adopt a radically subjectivistic conception of moral judgment (Veritatis Splendor, no. 32)
In the wake of Brown’s decision stemming from his “being at peace with himself,” no doubt some doctors will find it increasingly comforting to be able to adjudicate decisions regarding other people’s lives from the tribunal of their own individual consciences.