When do you have the “Right to Die”?
When most people are faced with a physician telling them that a terminal illness will take their life, they tend to finish the rest of their life living in fear. However, Brittany Maynard’s story is different. Brittany was diagnosed with a fatal, stage 4 brain cancer in April of 2014 and was told that she had six months left of her life. After many months of research, the only conclusion was that there was no treatment that could help her and the care that was available would impose great pain and suffering. After researching, Brittany discovered that Oregon is one of the 5 states that allows for doctor-assisted suicide and has criteria that her illness meets. California does not have a law that allows terminally ill patients to end their own lives, so Brittany and her family had to relocate to Oregon so that she could get the care that she needs. Under the Death with Dignity Act, patients that are facing a lot of suffering in result of their terminal illness can choose when enough is enough and that they would like to end their own life before it becomes any more painful. Brittany plans to take the lethal medication that was prescriber to her shortly after her husbands birthday, surrounded by her family. In a heartfelt video provided by CNN, Brittany discusses her situation, and the reasoning behind her choice. The video can be found at the link provided: http://fox8.com/2014/10/07/i-do-not-want-to-die-but-i-am-dying-woman-explains-agonizing-decision/. The purpose of this essay is to inform the audience about Death With Dignity, Physician-Assisted Suicide, Euthanasia, and similar topics. The intent is to provide information that will cause the audience to put more thought into their answer when thinking “If I was diagnosed with a terminal illness, would I want to be given the Right to Die?”.
Euthanasia, another term for purposely taking one’s life to end their suffering, has been both widely practiced and condemned by many cultures dating back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans. They used this practice mostly with abortion and, in some cases, doctors would administer mercy killings. Even though doctors were supposed to follow the Hippocratic Oath, “One of the oldest binding documents in history, the Oath written by Hippocrates is still held sacred by physicians: to treat the ill to the best of one's ability, to preserve a patient's privacy, to teach the secrets of medicine to the next generation, and so on.” (Definition of Hippocratic Oath.), some doctors did not follow this and they would give their patients poison if it was asked for. During the Middle Ages, the practices of euthanasia laid dormant and the act of suicide was not an option. If someone did commit suicide the townspeople would drag the body through the streets to show everyone an example of what would happen to them if they were to choose to take their own life.
In the 1800’s most of America did not support the ideas of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. Some states would try and push for laws to be passed that would allow for physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia to be legalized but the hope for these laws were ended in the 1930’s when Hitler used euthanasia to kill millions of Jewish people with the use of gas chambers, cremation and starvation. This put a halt to the euthanasia movement in America because the Holocaust caused citizens to become more sensitive and aware when it came to the idea of purposely ending someone’s life. It wasn't until the late 20th and 21st century that euthanasia finally made a step in advancement when the Netherlands became the first country to legalize euthanasia; soon after, other countries followed in their footsteps by also passing pro-euthanasia laws.
In 1990 Dr. Jack Kevorkian, also known as “Doctor Death” was publicised for his role in Physician-Assisted Suicides. Michigan does not have