In 1997, Oregon passed the Right-to-Die Bill and in September 2015, California state lawmakers recently passed a similar bill called The End of Life Option Act. This bill now the needs to be signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown of California to be put into full effect. This bill will give the terminally ill the option to end their lives rather than suffer with the illnesses they have been cursed with. With this bill becoming a law, physicians would then be able to prescribe a lethal dose of a certain drug to people in advanced stages of deadly illnesses.
This will be the fifth right-to-die bill to be submitted to California’s legislature since 1995 and with the death of 29 year old teacher, Brittany Maynard, who was crippled by late stage brain cancer, this issue brought back much attention to many people in 2014. Maynard moved to Oregon from California so that she could determine her fate as she had seen fit. There are many people who both support and oppose this bill. For example, most of the people who support the bill are family members of sick loved ones that do not like to see their loved ones suffering.
Those who oppose the bill include members of the catholic church due to the fact that suicide is considered to be a mortal sin. In the end, is it up to Governor Brown to decide whether or not this should be made a law in California and if another state allows assisted suicide. Physician-assisted suicide should be legal throughout the United States because it is a civil right and it would help control the percentage of suicide by other means, and it would also stop placing a burden on the families of the terminally ill and the medical organizations that regulate the practice.
Currently in the United States, only six out of the fifty states legalized physician-assisted suicide. According to the article, State-by-State Guide to Physician-Assisted Suicide, Colorado is the most recent addition to the list since it passed the End of Life Options Act on November 8th, 2016. Almost all of these states require the patient to be at least 18, have six or less months to live and require the patient to request the physician’s help twice orally and once in writing.
This article also explains that Montana is the only one out of these six that legalizes it through court ruling. This year at least nine more states are considering to pass the Death with Dignity law. This means 35 states have laws that prohibit assisted suicide or have no laws regulating it at all. Since physician-assisted suicide laws are handled on a state level, the federal government has no laws to regulated it either. Physician-assisted suicide is a civil right that every American should have access to.
As this quote explains, “it would allow each person the freedom to control the time, place, and circumstances of his or her death. Patients facing the slow progression of a fatal disease or the prognosis of living for years with incurable pain would be able to end their lives with dignity” (Stokely 1). This means that one could have control of his life just as he should. It is easy to understand that a person would rather end his life peacefully rather than in suffering such as someone with a fatal disease or a late stage cancer.
The freedom for someone to pick the details of their own death, such as time and place, under certain conditions should be a guaranteed right just like the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion. Everyone is going to die at some point in life. Why should a person not be able to die when he prefers to? One of the rights as Americans is freedom of religion and with that freedom comes different views on physician-assisted suicide. As this quote reveals, “prevention of suicide is a violation of religious freedom.
By preventing suicide, the government is imposing its religious belief that suicide is a sin; it should be up to the individual to determine what he or she believes” (Messerli 1). In some cases, such as the catholic church believes, one believes that it is a sin to commit suicide; however a member of a different religion might think otherwise. Therefore, it is wrong for the government to prohibit the options of a person because of religious reasons. By infringing on the religious rights of many other people, the government would be frowned upon by the members of said religious groups.
When polls were conducted on the topic of physician-assisted suicide, “The public research foundations indicate that over 60 percent of Americans believe that a person should have a moral right to commit suicide under certain conditions” (Issitt and Newton 1). This means that more than half of the American population support physician-assisted suicide if the conditions are justified and acceptable. The percentage of American supporters would increase if this was made legal because people would see the benefits occurring more often.
Anyone who is terminally ill should at least have the option of physician-assisted suicide because they would have another option to chose from and this would give the dying person more freedom to control the outcome of their fleeting life. Why should it be fair for one to have control of how he lives his life, but to not have control on how to end it if they had an option? One’s death is the last part of one’s life and if a person wants to end their life sooner because of a fatal disease then they should be able to do so.
Physician-assisted suicide should be considered a civil right because a person should have as much control over the outcome of their life as possible. This quote states, “a Harris poll in December 2001 showed support for both euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide by a 2-1 majority” (Stokely 1). In other words, twice as many people show support for physician-assisted suicide at the time of this poll. If twice as many people supported it, why is it not legal? It would make more sense to have what the majority believes in because more people would be satisfied.
As for minority of people that do not support it, they do not have to participate in the application of the law if they do not want to. This law would not force the terminally ill to commit suicide, it is just another option for everyone. Physician-assisted suicide should be made legal in the United States because people would have an alternative option in the decision making of the end of their own lives. Allowing physician-assisted suicide to be an option for the terminally ill, people would have a larger sense of control of their own inevitable death.
Leon R. Kass and Nelson Lund wrote an article about courting death. According to them, “a decision to commit suicide, like a decision to have an abortion, is encompassed by a judicially recognized right to make private decisions about the mystery of human life” (Kass and Lund 1). This quote shows a connection between abortion and physician-assisted suicide in terms of rights. If it is acceptable for a woman to choose to abort her child, then it should be acceptable for her to have the choice of suicide if she becomes violently ill.
Another reason for making suicide assisted by physicians legal is because it would help to control the percentage of suicides not due to a fatal illness. As this quotes suggests, “this could reduce instances of suicide by other means. Acting independently of a physician’s advice, patients may choose unreliable methods to end their lives such as drug overdoses, firearms, and asphyxiation” (Stokely 1). If one does not want to live with a horrible, terminal disease, he might think that suicide would be the only liable option.
This thought process would lead to people acting out in a poor state of mind, resulting in suicidal attempts. People would agree more with the ending one’s life safely with the help of a doctor and with the consent of the dying person than to have someone end their life independently with uncontrolled methods like drug overdoses and firearms. A person’s decision to take their own life should not be taken lightly, but if it is what they would want as a last resort then they should have the option end it with the help of a physician and with their dignity instead of them going through much more harm than necessary.