Terminally ill should have the right to die


Lauren Alison, Copy Editor

Imagine this: you’re in the hospital, and have been fighting cancer relentlessly for months after you were diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. The doctor comes into your hospital room and with one look at his face, you just know that nothing good is going to come of this. He stands across from you with a sad look on his face and gives you the news. The chemotherapy hasn’t been working and the cancer has gotten to the point that surgery is no longer an option. All that fighting, all of the pain, has been for practically nothing. You’re tired of fighting. Every single day is a constant struggle and the pain is almost unbearable, and all you want to do is end it. End the pain and the suffering, but you can’t, because the state that you live in prohibits physician assisted suicide. It’s your body, given the circumstances, shouldn’t you be able to decide whether or not to die?

Assisted suicide is defined as when a physician gives his or her patient the lethal means to die at the time of his or her choosing, but physician assisted suicide is not to be confused with voluntary active euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia still is working towards the same goal as physician assisted suicide, but makes it so that the physician plays a more active role in carrying out his or her patient’s request.

On April 14, 2016, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced legislation of which has been drafted so that terminally ill patients will have easier access to physician assisted suicide, while closing the door to citizens from other countries in an effort to prevent medical tourism from the terminally ill from other countries.   

Because of the introduction of new legislation, the firestorm surrounding the idea of assisted suicide has once again flared to life. But why is there so much debate surrounding assisted suicide? Those who advocate for assisted suicide believe that competent, terminally ill people with no chance for long term success in their fight with whatever illness they have should have the right to choose whether or not they want to die if and when they choose. It has been said that if one can choose whether or not they want treatments, then they can choose whether or not they want to die.

On the opposite side of the table are those who are against the practice of physician assisted suicide. People who are against assisted suicide argue that to allow assisted suicide is to devalue the lives of humans. They also argue that it is not impossible for a medical prognosis to be wrong, allowing for people who have been said to have only weeks to live, go on living for months, or even years more. While that is a more than valid point, there are still some problems within the argument.

Whether or not it is appreciated, it the sole choice of the patient to choose whether or not they feel it is their time to go. While the person could have months or even years to live, more thought needs to go towards the quality of that life. For those who have cancer, treatment after treatment of chemo and radiation can have serious side effects on the body, and after months of going through those treatments, it only makes sense that one becomes exhausted and really has no will to keep living with the pain.

It is understandable; the want to be selfish, and to have your loved one be with you for at least a little while longer, but life isn’t fair. It is known that when someone is in a great amount of pain and there is nothing to be done to save that person, the best thing to be done is to put them out of their misery, and to not drag out the pain anymore than it should. At the end of that day, the best thing is to be there for comfort, and support whatever decision is made, allowing your loved one to live out the rest of however long they choose to live, peacefully.