Choice to Die?
Imagine seeing a loved one go through an agonizing pain while lying in a hospital bed for months without the ability to even move their lips as their body is fixed in one position and the only things that keeps their heart pumping blood are the breathing tubes running through their nose and mouth. So ask yourself is it worth it for you to unplug their ventilator to end their life mercifully or would you watch them suffer as the amount of time they have left on this earth drifts away? This disturbing thought has me questioning what would I do if I were in that position? Is one’s quality of life more important than the state of merely being “alive”? How much suffering are you willing to take before thoughts of death are constantly waving through your mind?
Euthanasia, known by many as a “happy death,” has been a growing topic as it gives a terminally ill patient the ability to die with dignity. Although there have been developments in medicine and cures, it still remains that there are a handful incurable diseases and illnesses that make life intolerable. These illnesses rob the patient from experiencing a high quality of life by causing dreadful pain and sorrow as a result making their life unbearable. So shouldn’t it be the patient’s right to control his or her life by choosing to live or die without government intervention?
Although euthanasia should be legal for terminally ill patients, there should also be laws regarding euthanasia because people often make irrational decisions. People tend to make decisions in the heat of the moment and it usually isn’t the best choice. For example, a person suffering from depression is susceptible to commit suicide and if euthanasia is completely legal then these people will be vulnerable, therefore they could make an irrational decision and end their life. Legalized euthanasia could drastically increase suicide rates because 30% to 70% of people who attempt to commit suicide suffer from depression. Therefore if euthanasia were to be completely legal people who battle from depression will most likely choose to be euthanized because of the idea that euthanasia is a quick and painless way out of hardships even though they could be treated and may be temporary. Most of the time when people say they want to “die” it is for reasons that can be fixed and treated, however at the spur of the moment when an individual is at a bad mental state they can potentially make choices that they regret and this choice could certainly be euthanasia as long as it is easy to reach.
Taking the notion of regulating euthanasia a step further, some patients have battled their illnesses and have survived when most people thought there was nothing but death for them. In this world most things aren’t always certain including doctors prognosis of a patient’s life expectancy. The article “Told they had terminal cancer and had as little as weeks to live”, presents Jane Plant, who was once diagnosed with breast cancer and was expected to live no longer than two months, yet 17 years later she is leading a healthy life and is the grandmother of 6 kids. Plant was a patient that was about to start the process of euthanasia and end her life however after considering her family she realized that being euthanized isn’t always the best option when a patient is “terminally” ill, because there are other options that can possibly save the person’s life. Not everyone has family members that are going to convince them to prolong their life, therefore government regulation on euthanasia is needed because people can swiftly end their lives based on an assumption that could misguide them into thinking that their only option is death.
Voluntary euthanasia should be legal to a terminally ill patient who choose to die with dignity. People should have the right to choose the quality of life they want to live because at the end of the day it’s mostly them who are being affected by this suffering. According to Brittany Maynard, in her letter to CNN, “My right to death with dignity at 29”, laying in a hospital bed while taking palliative medication as she is waiting for death to come along could lead her to “…potentially develop morphine-resistant pain and suffer personality changes and verbal, cognitive and motor loss of virtually any kind.” The notion of having a low quality of life due to a deteriorating health is unbearable to most people because it steals their opportunity of living the life they have always wanted and it forcefully pushes them towards death. The personality and physical changes that result because of trying to live longer in a state that doesn’t allow you to even get out of bed while causing burden to your family seems worthless. Therefore patients undergoing this type of pain should be entitled to the right to choose the fate of their life only if they pass through the laws that regulate euthanasia. It is not up to the government to decide the fate of a patient who is eventually going to face death but it is up to them to protect patient’s who are rushing to make an impulsive decision. As Maynard stated “Who has the right to tell me that I don’t deserve this choice? That I deserve to suffer for weeks or months in tremendous amounts of physical and emotional pain?” Such intractable suffering should not be experienced by a patient and if humans have the right to be in charge of their life then they should also have the right to choose to avoid going through such a severe pain only after they carefully consider all the possible options.
Adding on to the legalization of euthanasia, people who have terminally ill diseases should be able to have relief without suffering as they die. For example, Danny Bond a 21 year old who had a lifelong illness,over 300 surgeries and 2 suicide attempts couldn’t undergo euthanasia therefore he starved himself to death in a hospital bed. In this case the government had no right to ban Bond from having a “happy death” and peacefully dying instead he was forced to die over the course of days by starving himself in which he experienced an immense amount of agony. Such a slow and painful death should not be experienced by any patient so shouldn’t it be the individual’s decision to choose the way they want to end their life if their sufferings are to hard to bear?
The United States is known for giving people unalienable rights and in that is included life, liberty and security therefore if life is an entitled right then it is implied that the right to die and control our life is also a part of our human right provided by the declaration. So isn’t taking away people’s choice to die with dignity a violation of their human rights? In order to preserve human rights as well as protect the people the government should legalize euthanasia while placing regulations and restraints on it. If the government refuses to allow euthanasia it is going to be an infringement on human rights but, there are precautions they can take to control this issue. At the end of the day the only decision that matters lies within the patient and the family members, after all they are the ones that have to endure the pain.