Assisted suicide is a very controversial topic in the viewpoints of many.  Before I get into this topic, I want to clarify that this is an end of life treatment that is available in some states for terminally ill patients who show no signs of improvement.  The patients that choose this route must pass a full mental competency exam and have their decision legally notarized by an attorney general.  Brittany Maynard, a terminally ill brain cancer patient was the woman who pioneered the first legalization in Oregon back in 2013. According to the article above, “doctors gave Maynard six months to live earlier this year after diagnosing her with a form of brain cancer. She publicly announced her intention to move to Oregon so she could undergo physician-assisted suicide under the state’s Death With Dignity Act.” Since then, legalization has been a slow and lengthy process and little has been done in some states to reform the laws restricting it. According to this article, “Physician-assisted suicide differs from euthanasia, which is defined as the act of assisting people with their death in order to end their suffering, but without the backing of a controlling legal authority.” This treatment allows patients to end terminal suffering in a dignified, peaceful manner on their own terms.  So if this is such a regulated treatment, then why is it only legally available in five of the fifty US states?

Many people may be skeptical about the process that physicians take to administer this treatment.  Technically this is not a treatment since it is ending the life of the patient, however it is offered my medical doctors to alleviate suffering and pain.  When a patient has undergone all of the prerequisite requirements to display both mental competency, and no promise of their illness getting better in the future, they will meet with a physician who will prescribe lethal doses of medication which can be picked up at a specialized pharmacy, usually only available in hospitals.  Depending on the condition of the patient, they may choose where to take the next final steps wether it be at home or in a hospital.  This offers patients an option to have a dignified death before their condition fully takes hold of their body.  This allows lucid thought process when departing with loved ones.

I believe that Death with Dignity should be an option for patients who meet the qualifications.  I have personally known terminally ill people and the struggle with allowing your illness to claim your life.  I believe this option leaved patients with a dignified choice on how they would like the last weeks of their life to look like.  I hope to do more research on this topic and hope to see it come up in congress in upcoming years.  I believe this is an important human right and that it should be made available to those who truly need it.

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Do We Have the Right to Die? by Maxwell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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6 Comments
  1. Noah 9 months ago

    Maxwell,
    You provide a good analysis and valid opinion on assisted suicide, but I think there are more factors of it that need to be addressed. The first is medical expenses. Even when an illness is terminal, there are some people who can live comfortably for part of the remainder of their lives, and I feel that expenses to their family would want them to end their own life as to not feel selfish. This is a bit of an ethical dilemma, as if assisted suicide becomes widely legal, there would definitely be some cases where terminally ill patients would want to end their lives but would not want to if money were no object. This could also create conflicts of interest as companies in pharmacy and medicine would be losing some of the money they could potentially make off of terminally ill patients, and while they obviously would never admit to wanting that money, they could still argue against legalizing assisted suicide. The entire practice is just a horrible mess of ethics because of how complicated and connected the modern world is. I ultimately believe a truly terminally ill patient has the right to a peaceful death on their own terms, but making it happen fully on their terms and their terms alone may be nearly impossible without a lot of legislation and regulation.

  2. Sean 9 months ago

    Max,
    This is a very big issue, I personally agree that Death with dignity should be legal in all the states.If someone is terminally ill and is still of sound mind, why should they be made to suffer for the rest of their time on Earth? They should have the right to go out how they want to.

  3. Judge Thomas 9 months ago

    Max,
    This post is provides a thoughtful analysis on death, pain, and alleviating suffering. The concept of having the right to essentially kill yourself is a new concept for me, especially with regards to having pharmacists give you a lethal dose to take. I feel that this may carry controversy in the medical field, but this concept should be looked into more. Here you go, you might find this interesting. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2949364/

    -Thomas

  4. Catherine 9 months ago

    Maxwell,
    I think this is a very interesting topic, especially right now with our current medical care system and the rights we have at this time. I don’t think about this a lot unless it finds it way into mainstream media, the occasional news story or arc on a TV show, but bottom line it’s not often something I think about. I think that this article is interesting, It offers a few facts on State legislation if you’re interested in looking at it.
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/01/assisted-suicide-legalization-california-kevin-drum/

  5. Billy 9 months ago

    Maxwell, I found that your article on assisted suicide was very interesting and I am glad that you brought this subject to light. Though it is an uncomfortable subject to talk about, it is necessary to discuss as it happens on a daily basis. I also learned new information as you explained that it was not technically a treatment but instead “offered my medical doctors to alleviate suffering and pain”. I found a site online that goes into further detail about this subject, in case you wanted to continue your research. Thank you for sharing this information and I look forward to what you have to say about this issue in the future.

    http://www.assistedsuicide.org/

  6. Thomas 9 months ago

    Max, this is a very interesting topic. My parents are doctors themselves, and they reference the Hippocratic Oath which all doctors make, which prohibits them from being involved in ending a life. You might find this article helpful: https://www.thehastingscenter.org/briefingbook/physician-assisted-death/ .

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