Mar 11, 2018 #1
Death with Dignity
Imagine one day you receive news from your doctor that you are very ill. You are limited to just months and doctors aren't hopeful for a recovery or any change to your condition. Now imagine your life becomes overtaken by hospital visits and being hooked up to machines. And if being poked with needles and taking various medications wasn't enough imagine looking in the mirror and not being able to recognize yourself due to the side effects that is caused by the medications. The pain is unbearable and every week becomes more and more agonizing. You've come to terms with your time you have left. If you were given the opportunity to choose how you wanted to spend your last days would you take advantage of that? Death with Dignity is something that should be an option in all 50 states for individuals who are suffering from a degenerative, unendurable or fatal condition.
The Death with Dignity Act legalizes physician-assisted dying (PAD). Death with Dignity statutes allow mentally competent adult state residents who have a terminal illness with a confirmed prognosis of having 6 or fewer months to live to voluntarily request and receive a prescription medication to hasten their inevitable, imminent death (Death with Dignity Act). Today, only 5 states have enabled the Death with Dignity act. Those states include California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. You must reside in one of these states in order to receive the Death with Dignity laws which institutes physician-assisted dying. Of those 5 states, Oregon was the first in 1997. In those 10+ years since then only 4 states have followed Oregon's footsteps. This is something that isn't spoke about often and should be more widely discussed.
This issue comes as a major debate because people don't believe the patient should be allowed to end their life on their own terms. One of the major reasons why there are viewers who disagree with this subject is due to religion. Certain religions view this as plain suicide, which is against many religions. However, there was a study done that explored 4 reasons why people are against PAD without the mention of religion. "(1) "it offends me," suicide devalues human life; (2) slippery slope, the limits on euthanasia gradually erode; (3) "pain can be alleviated," palliative care and modern therapeutics more and more adequately manage pain; (4) physician integrity and patient trust, participating in suicide violates the integrity of the physician" (Sulmasy). These reasons are what are preventing more states from enabling PAD laws. I believe regardless of your own views, those who are terminally-ill should be provided a choice.
Brittany Maynard is someone who brought attention to the Death with Dignity laws. Maynard was newly married and actively trying to start a family at the young age of 29-years-old. After experiencing extreme headaches, she went to the doctors and later found out she had stage 4 terminal brain cancer. Her life seemed to be quickly coming to an end and the pain and suffering began to be unbearable. It was at this time her and her family decided to pack up and leave their entire home in California and move to Oregon where Maynard could obtain Death with Dignity laws. In the short time she had left, Maynard strived to be an activist for these laws and wanted the world to know her story and explain more states need to enable these laws (Griggs). Had California enabled these laws, she wouldn't have needed to pack up and leave her home. Maynard passed away peacefully in her own home 11 months after discovering she had cancer. In an interview Brittany explains Death with Dignity laws provides freedom and choice (Compassion Choices). It deprives prolonged agony and suffering and how much pain they may endure when their time comes to an end.
Death with Dignity laws are something that should be more widely discussed. It is unpalatable that the government is in control on how someone who is given months to live will have to spend their final days. If a terminally-ill patient wants to spent their last months traveling or their final moments in their own home peacefully surrounded by their loved ones, they should have that right to have that choice. They can't control their severity of their illness but with the Death with Dignity laws it does let them avoid the prolonged suffering and gives them the authorization to choose how and when they pass instead of their illness deciding for them.