Courtesy of eideard.com
Euthanasia, a practice widely used in our culture to put down ill animals, is the process of deliberately ending one’s life to end pain and suffering. An issue concerning people with terminal illnesses who choose to undergo euthanasia with the help of a doctor has recently come into the national spotlight. This process, also known as Death with Dignity, has stirred massive amounts of controversy due to its questionable morality.
Currently, physician-assisted suicide is legal only in Washington, Vermont and Oregon. Each of these states has passed the Death with Dignity Act, which allows “mentally competent, terminally-ill adult state residents” to receive assisted suicide from a doctor. Although there is plenty of room for debate, I see no reason as to why this act should be illegal in the other 47 states, simply because mentally stable people would be the ones making this choice.
Brittany Maynard, a woman who passed away in early November, was one of the main advocates of Death with Dignity. At age 29 she was diagnosed with Stage 4 glioblastoma, a terminal brain cancer. She was given just six months to live. Maynard certainly did not ignore the reality of her situation.
“My gliosblastoma is going to kill me and that’s out of my control,” said Maynard to People magazine. “It’s a terrible way to die.”
This harsh reality is what caused Maynard to choose the path of Death with Dignity. Her reasoning is completely moral, and has no unethical implications. The chemotherapy and radiation would extend her life, but would diminish any quality that was there before her diagnosis. Maynard moved her family to Oregon where the practice is legal, and planned to live the remainder of her days there. On Nov. 1 of this year, Maynard planned to take a lethal dose of barbiturates prescribed by her doctor. She passed away on that day surrounded by her family.
Brittany Maynard is a prime example of why Death with Dignity is a completely moral and ethical practice. Maynard, a mentally competent individual, was aware that her life was never going to be the same because of her cancer diagnosis. Rather than forcing both herself and her family to suffer emotionally and financially through the treatments, she chose the path of Death with Dignity. Choosing otherwise would mean succumbing to brain cancer in what doctors describe as an incredibly painful death.
Nobody wants to see their beloved pet suffer in their final days, which is why we take them to the vet to be put down. Ultimately, there is nothing unethical about mentally sound people making the same decision for themselves. Death with Dignity is a moral, and logical alternative to suffering through one’s final days, and should be legal throughout the country.