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The Right to Die - My Thoughts On The Death With Dignity Act

Updated on March 13, 2012

What is the Death With Dignity Act?

There are various states that have Death With Dignity Acts that allow for terminally ill patients to choice certain methods (usually a pill) of medically assisted suicide. These acts are written in a way to give the option of "being put out of one's misery" (for lack of better term) when a person is looking at 6 months or less of life without any real aide for pain, comfort or survival.

Even with terminal illnesses, each patient who requests a death with dignity option must be proven mentally competent and have several doctors confirm the prognosis of mental sanity along with terminal illness with less than 6 months left to live. The patient must also give multiple requests orally and written. They are not allowed to be coerced by anyone and they must wait for a certain period of time before they are allowed to receive the lethal assistance.

These death with dignity acts are very controversial in top circles, though most people are comfortable with such tools in their legislature, as shown by voting polls when the bills were passed. Most of the groups opposed to such legislation are religiously or ideologically biased and feel that no one should have the choice to commit suicide in a medically assisted way, even if they have nothing left to lose.

My thoughts...

Personally, I put the "Death With Dignity Act" subject into my mental filing drawer marked "Freedom". Death is not something anyone can stop or prevent forever, and even though it is regretful when a person ends their life early on a voluntary nature, it is their choice. That is the nature of true freedom. In order for freedom to be true and honest, we must allow for people to use their freedom in any way they please, regardless of how others might view those actions.

If a person wanted to sell their home, every possession they own and take everything out of their savings to donate it to their favorite charity, no one would say a thing other than "how nice". Yet, that person would not be homeless, pennyless and regardless of their good deeds, they might even be a little mentally incompetent, but hardly anyone would think to check. Yet when it comes to choosing to die, you'll always see many heads turn and whispers of "Oh no! How could someone do that?". Is it really so different? Sure they aren't being philanthropic, but they also are not putting themselves in a worse position then they were already in, or for that matter, the position a person would be in if they gave up all their resources without a plan to get more.

I would also like to touch on the subject that most anti-dwd proponents try to capitalize on - Death and Depression. I would first like to point out, that the death with dignity act only applies to those who have less than 6 months left to live, that has been confirmed by multiple doctors.

Now, with that in mind, let me ask you a question. If you were a 'normal' (whatever that means) person with no history of depression and you were told that you had say... a year left to live. Say you spent the first 6 months seeing doctors, taking prescription drug cocktails, going through horrible therapies (like radiation) and making so many medical appointments that you could no longer attend to your regular life activities. Let's say after all that, you still had only another 6 months (or less) to love... would you be depressed?

I'd say yes. I mean, how can any sane person go through all of that and not come out at least a little depressed? I'd almost consider something to be wrong with a person who could go through all of that and still be in some perfectly happy place in their mind. It would at least be very strange.

The dwd acts are not meant for anyone who only has depression. If you have depression, no matter how severe, there is always help, which is why the dwd acts require it's patients to have terminal illnesses. That being said, even if people with suicide were included, I would still consider it a freedom. Yes there are other options, yes a life is a horrible thing to waste. However, that doesn't mean that any other person should get to chose what a person does or does not do with their life. If they want to end it, and can prove that they understand what that means, then it's their choice to do so. No one else's. It may be selfish, it may seem crazy, but that is a persons choice.

In summary...

Death With Dignity is there to help people, and while there is plenty of potential for misuse, it should be an option. We can never walk in another persons shoes exactly, even if we can empathize with certain situations. Just as a person has the right to live, they should also have the right to die in a manner of their choosing.


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    • snofly profile image

      snofly 6 years ago

      Thank you for your thoughts on death with dignity. I lived through this with my brother last year and most people were very supportive of his choice. I am new to hubbing, but I think I will write one on our experience with the law. From some of the comments I have seen on your hub and others, there is definately some lack of understanding about the law. Not that everyone has to agree with it, but for those that do disagree, they should have the right information.

    • hpedneau profile image

      Holly Pedneau 6 years ago from Princeton, West Virginia

      You're welcome!

    • BizGenGirl profile image

      Bema Self 6 years ago from Seattle

      Thank you for the wonderful comments everyone! I'm glad you all enjoyed the hub =)

      And thank you so much for the great question hpedneau! =)

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Biz, I agree 100% with the right to choose. I have a hub similar to this on the same subject. Not only may that person be in constant pain, but that persons loved ones have to see them in that constant pain and it is really hard on them. I know that from experiance. I even sometimes wonder if doctors would accept that choice. They make a lot of money having those patients come in all the time for treatment. Then the other thing is, what this puts the relatives through, more than likely the children, financially. A very good hub. Greg

    • SubRon7 profile image

      James W. Nelson 6 years ago from eastern North Dakota

      Lots to think about, Bizgengirl, good hub. Thank you.

    • PETER LUMETTA profile image

      PETER LUMETTA 6 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      I believe that everyone has the freedom to end ones own life. The how and the why may be a different story. A doctor is the best qualified to help end ones life and if they can't stop the pain or save you then they should at least be willing to help you end it if you wish. Of course there are those who would like it to be required for the person to terminate if they want to or not. I'm sure there are many folks who would love to stay alive but because they don't have the money they are condemned to a slow painful death. They don't have a choice. What's good for one should be good for all. Thanks, Peter

    • hpedneau profile image

      Holly Pedneau 6 years ago from Princeton, West Virginia

      Great Hub! I totally agree, that it is a choice we should all reserve the right to have. No doctor is physically "killing" anyone. They may write the prescription, but they don't force anyone to take it. There are volunteers that remind each participant that it is a choice- and if you can't administer it yourself and physically admit you know what you're doing-- it won't be given. If someone can physically take the medication and profess that they understand that the medicine will place them in a coma, they could easily do it with another drug.Instead they choose to follow the law. Again, I highly recommend watching the documentary "How To Die In Oregon."