Initiative 119, a legislative effort to legalize physician-assisted suicide, was placed on a statewide ballot in 1991. Archbishop Murphy ardently supported a culture of life. He worked constantly with religious and lay leaders to defeat this initiative. While speaking to a gathering of parishioners in Vancouver, the archbishop stated the following, “We can’t stand by and do nothing. We are judged by what we do and what we don’t do. The worst is to do nothing.”
Archbishop Murphy offered the following reflection during the campaign to oppose physician-assisted suicide, “The great temptation today is to remove the aging and dying from our midst in the name of compassion or a false sense of autonomy. There is the great cry to legalize assisted suicide to protect the dying from what they fear most: intractable pain, loss of control, human dignity and financial stress. Yet assisted suicide is not compassion. True compassion is the willingness to share the pain of others, to be present to them, to learn from them and to recognize that human life is a gift from God.”
Initiative 119 failed at the ballot box. 52 percent of the electorate voted against the measure.