An option for terminal patients

This picture captures Brittany Maynard before and after most of her treatments. The photo on the right is a screenshot of her video which can be found here.

terminal [ter-muh-nl] adj. : causing, ending in, or approaching death; a point of part that forms the end

Brittany Maynard was a 29-year-old woman suffering from terminal brain cancer. As she became sicker and sicker, Maynard made the choice to move to Oregon– one of the five states who has legalized assisted suicide. It is hard for anyone to understand the extent of pain she was suffering, and the pain that other terminal patients suffer daily. Once the decision was made, Maynard did not immediately go through with the procedure. She made time to spend with loved ones and to do what she had always wanted to do, until the pain was too much.

Maynard permitted the assisted suicide on November 1, 2014. With her closest friends and family by her side, she was able to peacefully die with dignity.

Euthanasia is the process of taking one’s life to escape intense and terminal pain. Doctors will assist a terminal patient to have a peaceful death. With the use of drugs and injections, doctor’s are able to make their patients pass in peace.

Oregon regulates the use of assisted suicide by enforcing requirements for the person wanting to have an assisted suicide and their doctor. The person must be over 18, have citizenship and have been diagnosed with a terminal illness with less than six months to live. The doctors must offer other options, consult another doctor and confirm the patient’s mental state. Some fear that the legalization of euthanasia will allow people with bad intentions to abuse the process.

Multiple European countries, such as the Netherlands and Belgium, have made assisted suicide legal since 2002. Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana and New Mexico are the only US states who have legalized euthanasia.

The strongest argument against euthanasia is that a doctor is meant to be a healer. Even upon the patient’s request, it is unethical to end one’s life deliberately. If everyone was able to experience the excruciating pain that sick patients go through, maybe all those opposed would change their minds.

Pain is not felt the same way. It is a very personal feeling, that no other person can completely imagine to the exact extent. The pain associated with terminal diseases– such as cancer, tumors and levels of HIV/AIDs– inclines linearly and at some time there will be a stop. By this I mean the pain will only increase once it starts, and the only outcome will be death. The argument for and against euthanasia is similar to the argument associated with abortion. People wonder how it could be legal to purposely kill a fetus or allow and support a terminal patient to their death. When asked the simple question: Would you have an abortion? You are being asked hypothetically. This also applies to euthanasia. Without context, there is no way to decide what is right or wrong.

Assisted suicide is a decision most of us will, luckily, never be faced with. It is impossible to understand the physical and emotional pain terminal patients endure. We’ve all heard the saying “Don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Before deciding whether you do or don’t support euthanasia, keep in mind how lucky you are to have none to only curable health problems.


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