Death with Dignity Act: Ethical Dilemma Regarding Euthanasia
Today many people have heard of suicide, where one will take their own life when things get to hard to handle and they feel like there is no other way to cope. Not many people today have heard of assisted suicide. Assisted suicide is when a physician will help assist a patient with suicide by prescribing lethal doses of drugs or supplying the drugs for the patient.
Dr. Jack Kevorkian played a big role in the Assisted Suicide. He was a physician who lived in Michigan who helped his patients kill themselves. He helped assist more than 130 people from 1990-1998. He even helped his parents with assisting them in their death. He has served 8 years in prison for second-degree murder for administering the lethal injection rather than helping the patient do it themselves. At the age of 83, on June 3, 2011 he had died under the Death with Dignity Act. They say he died peacefully listening to his favorite composer. He had passed away in the intensive care unit where he was suffering from pneumonia and kidney problems. He had later developed pulmonary thrombosis.
Assisted suicide is legal in 5 states which includes Oregon, Montana, Washington, Vermont, and California. Anyone living in these states that are over the age of 18 and are terminally ill and mentally competent are able to have an assisted suicide. The first state to allow the Death with Dignity Act was Oregon on October 27, 1997. In 2014, a total of 155 terminally-ill adults from Oregon received a prescription under the Death with Dignity Act. Out of the 155 patients, 105 of them ingested the medications to die peacefully. Since the law passed in 1998, a total of 1,327 patients have received the prescription, and 859 ingested it and died.About 1 in 3 people who receive these medications under the Death with Dignity Act decide not to use the medications.
Most people who choose to die under the Death with Dignity Act tend to be well educated and have excellent health care, good insurance, access to hospice, and financial, emotional, and physical support. Most people who choose this route have cancer or ALS. They will typically choose to die at home and are enrolled in hospice care. Research shows that 2 out of 3 people are age 65 and older while the median age is 72.
In 2014, Brittany Maynard, who was 29 with terminal brain cancer who lived Portland, Oregon chose the Death with Dignity Act. On New Year’s Day after months of chronic headaches, she learned she had brain cancer. She had been married for a little over a year and had been trying for a family. After learning about her diagnosis she learned she had 6 months to live. She did research on how radiation would be and she found out that she would have first-degree burns on her scalp, and she would lose all her hair. With her tumor being so large radiation wouldn’t do much for her. She had considered passing away at home with hospice but she didn’t want her family to witness such a tragic thing. She had the medication for weeks, she wanted people to know that she is not suicidal but she is dying and she wants to die on her own terms. With her having this decision to decide on when she dies has given her a peace of mind during this stressful time. She wanted to be able to make it to October 26 to celebrate her husband’s death and planned to pass shortly after.
In my opinion I believe that more states should allow this law. Many people when they are terminally ill would rather die peacefully then to have a short amount of time suffering and their families seeing them in this emotional struggle. For me, I wouldn’t want my family to see me suffering. I would rather me be able to pass peacefully then to suffer longer than I need to.
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