Death with dignity should be legal around the nation


Zoey Becker, Online Opinion Editor

Imagine if every day you lived in a world of pain. Imagine living with a death sentence due to an incurable disease. If your doctors told you there was no chance of a miraculous recovery, no surgery to be done to save your life, and to simply live out the rest of your months while you can, would you be happy with that as your only option? Would you want to die a slow, painful death while your friends and family watch you turn into someone who they know you aren’t? This is something that most would never wish upon their greatest enemy. However, in 45 states, there is no option for those suffering like this. Asking friends or family to end one’s misery is only giving them a jail sentence. While no choices are available for most, those living in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Vermont, and now California, have the option to let a doctor legally end their life.

This topic is extremely controversial. Those who oppose assisted suicide argue everything from the right to die to religious concerns. But the fact that cannot be denied is that if the patient is truly dying, letting them die in a manner that they prefer is ethical.

Even in states that legalize  assisted suicide, the process to obtain permission is extensive. For example, in Oregon, there are many steps to be completed. First, the patient must be eligible to request lethal medication, in compliance with Oregon’s “Death with Dignity” act. To be eligible, one must be at least 18 years old, an Oregon resident, and be dying of a terminal disease that will kill them in the next six months. Step one is making an oral request. At least 15 days later, the patient must make another oral request. Then, the patient must sign a written form with at least two witnesses. Next, a doctor evaluates the patient to make sure they do not have a psychiatric disorder and are mentally fit. Another doctor has to sign off on it, and the doctor must go over all alternative options, such as hospice. Finally, the doctor can prescribe lethal drugs but may not administer them- the patient must take them themselves. Time of death is determined by the health care provider present during the final process.

This process is so extensive that it leaves no room for loopholes. The patient only receives this unless they truly do want it. There are many points throughout the process that offer the patient the chance to retract their initial request, making the argument that doctors push patients into it, invalid. Doctors took a “do no harm” vow in their Hippocratic Oath; however, by completing the request of the patient and not being allowed to administer lethal drugs themselves, there is no harm being done here.

Everyone has a right to die with dignity. It is nobody else’s choice to decide how another should die. California has recently taken great steps in realizing this reality and all of the other states should follow.