Recently the debate over physician assisted suicide has swept the nation, involving legislation being pushed by the terminally ill who want to end their lives. One case was that of Brittany Maynard, a woman who suffered from sever glioblastoma that ended her life on November 2nd, becoming somewhat of a martyr for the issue. More states are considering passing laws to allow assisted suicide as a result of media coverage on the topic, especially the story of Maynard. Physician assisted suicide should not be condoned in more states, but rather fewer of them.
Physician assisted suicide has been an option for the mortally sick or injured who wanted to end their lives to ease any future physical suffering they may experience, or any psychological pain they may inflict onto others.
Assistant Principal Dan Ralston defines the procedure as, “An intentional suicide by an individual who has a doctor there helping them through the process and not only getting the prepped for it but also in prescribing the medications that end up ending their life.”
Currently five states allow some form of assisted suicide, mostly through large dosages of medications such as secobarbital and pentobarbital which result in death. The states of Oregon, Vermont and Washington follow the Death With Dignity Act that requires patients to be of sound mind, and to be diagnosed with a terminal illness, as well as having less than a projected six months to live. These requirements are adequate in order to ensure that those who receive such a treatment are doing so consciously, and want to follow through with their decision.
Natural rights have been a controversial issue for years, involving debates over the right to take life away, such as abortions, or in this case, doctors assisting in the intentional suicide of a patient. The opposing sides on the matter are namely religious groups, rights activist groups such as Compassion and Choices, religious groups who believe life is a natural right and gift of God and only he can end a life, and finally doctors who do not want any part in ending a human life, but rather saving them. While many are asking for more availability to physician assisted suicide, no further legislation should be considered, as wider access to assisted suicide indirectly promotes the action by making it easy to find an exit or an answer for dealing with medical conditions. While the treatment should be available, it should be restricted to fewer states to ensure that suicide is not a conclusion that is so quickly jumped to.
The decision to end one’s life is a hasty and selfish one, as life should be lived to its full extent, and ending it early is not only cheating yourself, but leaving emotional scars on those closest to the deceased, including the doctor who preformed the procedure. This was the case with Briattany Maynard, at 29 years old she left behind a devastated mother and husband, left with the hope that her story might spread the news of an alternative to suffering. Yet all that Maynard advocated was an easy escape from her problems, it was not a solution. However, a shining example of perseverance during terminal illness is that of Joni Eareckson Tada, a disability advocate who has lived as a quadriplegic since 1967. Tada wrote to Maynard concluding that, “Life is the most irreplaceable and fundamental condition of the human experience, and I implore Brittany and others considering her example to take a long, hard look at the consequences of a decision that is so fatal, and worst of all, so final.”