Dear Future President,
Terminally ill patients in America should have the right to end their life on their own terms, rather than wait for whatever horrible disease they have to slowly and painfully kill them.
Oregon is one of the five states that currently allow physician assisted suicide due to its Death with Dignity Act. There are requirements a patient must first meet in order to request a prescription for the lethal medication and if they meet all of them and are then deemed eligible, there are then further steps a patient must take before they can receive the prescription for the medication. This ensures that outside factors, such as depression, aren’t inhibiting the person’s decision the make this life changing decision rationally and also gives the doctors’ time to ensure that their diagnosis as well as prognosis is correct.
A young woman who was able to end her life through this law was Brittany Maynard. On New Year’s Day of 2014, after months of suffering debilitating headaches, Maynard was diagnosed with a grade II astrocytoma, a form of brain cancer. She had a partial craniotomy and a partial resection of her temporal lobe in an effort to slow down the growth of the cancer. However, a few months later in April, her diagnosis was elevated to a grade IV astrocytoma, and was given 6 months to live. The treatment her doctors wanted to give her was full brain radiation, which would have singed off all of her hair, and left her scalp covered in first degree burns. The treatment would likely not have bought her much more time, and would have destroyed the little time she did had left. She first considered hospice care, but after learning she could develop potentially morphine resistant pain and suffer personality changes, and verbal, cognitive and motor loss of any kind, she decided against it and instead started looking into the Death with Dignity Act in Oregon. Her and her husband soon uprooted their lives’ and established residency in Oregon. After receiving the medication she kept it for weeks, and once said “I’m not suicidal. If I were, I would have consumed that medication long ago. I do not want to die. But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms.” She had the option to end her life, rather than suffer for weeks or months in a tremendous amount of physical and emotional pain while her family watched. Americans in each state should have that option as a safety net and not be robbed of that right. Choosing to die on your own terms is a personal decision that everyone should be able to benefit in the most extreme of circumstances. It is not other people’s right to determine what is right for you; it is your right to seek what would benefit yourself.