Liberty For Life And Death
What is Aid in Dying?
Aid in dying is available for a terminally ill patient, when he or she has less than six months to live. The patient is given prescription drugs that he/she must self-administer that allows for a painless death.
Aid in dying is commonly confused with euthanasia or assisted suicide, but there is a critical difference between them. In assisted death, the patient has control and chooses the time of death and whether he/she actually wants to go through with the decision. Euthanasia puts that control and responsibility in the doctor’s hands.
Aid in dying is very important to me because of my family’s history with this issue. Five years ago my grandmother’s best friend, who I have been very close to since I was a baby, became terminally ill. She was going to die a horrible death where she would have choked on her own spit because she was becoming paralyzed. She did not want to spend her last days suffering and she wanted to die with dignity. Marilyn wanted to be euthanized, but under local legislation in California, she did not have the liberty to do so. Instead she had to suffer through a grueling several months, leave most of her family and friends, and fly all the way to Switzerland to receive a physician-assisted suicide. Thankfully today aid in dying has been legalized in California. But millions of people from other states should not be made to suffer the way Marilyn did.
What’s Happened So Far?
As of now California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington have all made aid in dying a legal right. Montana has their own regulation where a decision to permit someone to die is made by a court decision.
What Can You Do?
Advocate for aid in dying in your community. Spread the word and protest to your local congressman and senators. Help end unnecessary and needless suffering.
Still Not Convinced?
Read about the issue from the perspective of a bioethicist, and learn how both science and ethics supports the legalization of aid in dying. Check out the bottom of this site!
“Dying is not a Crime.”
The four principles of bioethics – autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice- form the core of modern bioethics discussion and are a series of principles used by bioethicists to help determine whether certain medical treatments are morally correct. These principles simplify medical treatments to matters of right and wrong which help governments create fair legislation regarding those medical treatments. The first principle, the principle of autonomy, requires that the patient have autonomy of thought, intention, and action when making decisions regarding health care procedures. The decision-making process must be free of coercion or coaxing. In order for a patient to make a fully informed decision, she/he must understand all risks and benefits of the procedure and the likelihood of success. The principle of autonomy applies to aid in dying because it states that a patient has the right to choose whether or not they would like to receive medical treatment. This means that those that are suffering and in a terminal condition need to be placed under an ethical microscope in order to examine whether they should have the right to receive aid in death. Patients who are suffering and have no more than six months to live should have the right to aid in death, and there should be legislation allowing said law in every state.
The term non-maleficence means “to do no harm” and is an ethical principle that often opposes beneficence, which involves considering the benefits of a certain treatment and balancing them against any possible side effects that may occur. The principle of non-maleficence applies to euthanasia because doctors must be certain that they are in no way hurting the patient when ending the patient’s life. This is particularly important when the method of death is being taken into consideration. It is imperative that when a physician is performing euthanasia upon a terminally ill patient, that the doctor makes sure that the patient will not experience any pain. Euthanasia is ethically questionable because we cannot determine after death whether the patient experienced any pain, nor if the patient wanted to change his/her mind at the last minute. The principle of beneficence applies to euthanasia because it is critical that patients are benefitting from this decision. This means that if a patient is in endless, excruciating pain and the only way out is death, it makes euthanasia ethically correct because it is specifically benefitting the patient.