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September 29, 2023

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Those who suffer have right to die with dignity, by choice

A few weeks ago, a story surfaced about a woman by the name of Brittany Maynard who is choosing to “die with dignity” shortly after her husband’s birthday.

Maynard, 29, has stage four glioblastoma – a “malignant brain tumor” – and only has six months left to live.

After months of strenuous research, Maynard has chosen to end her life via physician-assisted suicide (also known as euthanasia), saying, “There is no treatment that would save my life and the recommended treatments would have destroyed the time I

had left.”

On Nov. 1, Maynard is set to undergo the procedure in Oregon, where the practice is legal, in order to prevent inevitable suffering.

Ever since this story has surfaced, so too has the controversy over the idea that one has the right to “die with dignity,” along with the emergence of scathing judgement.

To “die with dignity” means that a dying individual has the right to physician-assisted suicide in order to prevent or cease further suffering, if they so wish.

Not everyone agrees that this is the case.

The most prominent argument countering the idea is that physician-assisted suicide should not be legalized or performed on the grounds

of religion.

The issue with this logic, however, is that the notion of whether or not to allow physician-assisted suicide is a legality issue. Since there is a separation of church and state, other people’s opinions based on their religious ideals do not matter.

Not everyone holds the same beliefs and values and therefore saying that one person should not have the right to “die with dignity” based on another’s religious beliefs is invalid.

Another concern people have brought up in the wake of this controversy is that those who are depressed and/or suicidal may utilize physician-assisted suicide.

This would be a fair concern, except for the fact that, as mentioned previously, to “die with dignity” means that a dying person can choose to undergo physician-assisted suicide if they wish to prevent or end their suffering due to their illness. This means that it wouldn’t be “easier” for those who are depressed and/or suicidal to stroll into a hospital and get the procedure.

What’s worse than the arguments attempting to deny the right of a dying individual to end their suffering is the harsh judgement of the people who make this decision.

Claims that people who choose to undergo physician-assisted suicide in order to end or prevent suffering are not “brave” or are taking the “easy way out” are not just unfair, but also untrue.

For one who does not want to die, but has been put in a situation in which they must choose to die on their own terms or to die slowly and painfully, the decision is no simple task. Choosing the date and place as well as breaking the news to friends and family, are all very draining matters.

Death is scary, regardless.

It’s very easy for one to pass judgment on a person when they’ve never been in their situation. But what we need to recognize is that, whether or not we personally would make a decision like Maynard’s, in the end it doesn’t really matter.

When it comes down to it, different people have different thoughts, beliefs and values and if they’re not hurting anyone, they should be allowed to make the decisions that best suit them.

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