For some, physician assisted suicide is a humane, dignified death


Jacob WaringOpinions & Features Editor

One day, we are all going to die. Young college adults, if we are lucky, do not have to worry about that reality for many years. We are more than likely going to worry about our grandparents or parents passing. Insidious conditions such as cancer and other illnesses could make the final chapter of someone’s life become an undignified, grueling affair.

This is why I am a huge supporter of physician assisted suicide. Everyone should have the right to die a dignified death or, at least have the option to choose when they want to end their suffering.

New Jersey passed the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act into law on Friday, April 12, making it the eighth state to allow terminally ill patients to make life or death decisions.

Back in March, Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, presented a house bill that would allow terminally ill patients to make requests for lethal prescription to hasten their deaths. This was the fourth time lawmakers introduced such a bill in this state. I assume that one day in my lifetime Connecticut will be one of the next states to create similar legislation.

I have seen family members suffer agonizing deaths from illnesses that made their passing undignified for all involved. They did not like the feeling of being a burden on their loved ones. Others in my family wish their passing was more dignified.

I have seen friends in their early 20s have a parent lose their battle to cancer. People who have lost loved ones to horrific illnesses where they experienced agonizing suffering. When I was young, I witnessed my grandmother become a shell of her former self and attempt to continue to be present in my life despite the cancer attempted to be in the way.

We should have the choice to decide how we die with a terminal illness.

The choice for a death where people can pass knowing they did not become a burden to their family in the final stage of their life.

If you feel this choice is morally reprehensible, that people should live their entire life down to the final painful moment, or you just feel it is wrong for other reasons, then you can decide for yourself not to have that option, but leave others to be able to make that choice.

When it is my time, it is my time. If I have the bad luck of becoming afflicted with a terminal illness, then I would hope I live in a state where I have that option. That I have that choice. Personally, I feel like I would not make that choice for myself based on my own personal beliefs but would still want the option.

I remember my grandmother choosing not to do chemotherapy for her lung cancer. I remember her choosing to go into a nursing home for her grandkids’ sake. I remember her being considerate of everyone in her final moments. I do wonder that if she had the option for physician assisted suicide, if she would have decided to end her life in a way that she could have died with more respect than she did.

I do fear being in a position where I will be forced to suffer due to societal norms. I do not, and I assume no one does, want a death that is prolonged and filled with suffering.

The humane action is to provide people the option to choose when to end their suffering. Whether they choose to do so or not is dependent on who we are as individuals.

If we can decide what can be done to our body post-death then we can decide what to do with our bodies in our final moments.

It is odd our pets can have their suffering cease but we are willing to extend the suffering of our love ones and ourselves.

I feel that having a choice is better than not having one at all. As the alternative is far more horrifying, excruciating and undefined.

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One comment

  • I read that in 2015 in Oregon, under its assisted suicide law, 106 individual doctors wrote prescriptions for lethal drugs, with each doctor writing an average of two prescriptions. However, one physician wrote 27 prescriptions! One must wonder how well that doctor knew those 27 patients before he or she wrote the prescriptions. Did that doctor refer any of them for a mental health evaluation before giving them the death drugs?
    Given that less than 5% of Oregon people who were given the lethal drugs were so referred, and given this doctor’s prolific production of lethal prescriptions, it’s unlikely. It’s more likely that the doctor is a death-for-any-reason zealot like the late Dr. Kevorkian. However, since the report does not provide the names of doctors, it’s not possible to follow-up on possible abuses.
    I have yet to hear how any proponent of assisted suicide would address these problems.

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