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.