By Selina Thor
Physician assisted suicide is a controversial topic that has come up recently in an interesting news story. Brittany Maynard was age 29 and was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma, a terminal brain cancer. Maynard made the decision to move to Oregon, a state where she could make her own decision, if she wanted to end her life. There are three states in the United States where physician assisted suicide is legal, and one state, Montana, where it has been legal through court ruling. It is legal in Oregon, Vermont and Washington, all of which have very similar requirements.
You must be a legal resident over the age of 18 that has been given a life expectancy of six months or less by two or three separate doctors. In addition, the patient must be in a clear state of mind to make decisions and not be impaired in any way. First, the patient must make an verbal request to their doctor that they would like to go through with physician assisted suicide. Following that, the patient is required to wait a minimum of 15 days before they make their second verbal request. After their second verbal request they must make a written request. Lastly, there is a 48-hour waiting period from when the lethal dose of a drug is prescribed and when the patient can pick up the drug.
Maynard defended her rights to die with dignity saying, “I would not tell anyone else that he or she should choose death with dignity… My question is: Who has the right to tell me that I don’t deserve this choice?” This is a widely shared opinion, that every individual should have the right to choose their own fate. Many use the phrase, quality over quantity, when it comes to suffering at the end of one’s life.
On the other hand there are many aspects that could be dangerous or worrisome. All doctors are required to take a Hippocratic Oath, and physician assisted suicide is a direct violation of this oath. Yet another problem could be patients who are experiencing severe pain, this severe pain could sway the patients’ decision in a way that may not be ideal. Healthcare companies cause another concern. The cost of supplying lethal doses of medication is far less then the cost of continuing to care for patients in a hospital setting. This could alter healthcare providers’ views and cause them to persuade overly influence a patient’s decision.