Imagine if your loved one fell terminally ill and had to face months of suffering. If they were a Canadian citizen, they would now be able to request medical assistance in ending their lives on their own terms.
According to Canadian news website CBC News, Canada has recently introduced a medically-assisted suicide law applying only to Canadian residents. The United States should consider implementing similar legislation in order to allow terminally ill patients to avoid unnecessary pain and discomfort near the end of their life.
Medically-assisted suicide, also known as physician-assisted suicide, occurs when a doctor aids in a patient’s death by providing the necessary resources to enable the patient to perform the life-ending act themselves. The methods may include prescribing sleeping pills and giving information about the lethal dose while being aware the patient may use the pills to commit suicide. In the end, the patient has the right to choose; PAS is not the same as euthanasia.
The contents of Canada’s new law were announced in "Canada Moves to Legalize Assisted Suicide" from The Wall Street Journal earlier this month. The legislation mandates only individuals over the age of 18 can request a doctor’s help in dying. The person must have the request signed by two witnesses, and nurses and doctors will evaluate the requests. After the request has been made, there is a fixed 15-day waiting period that must occur before the suicide may take place.
While some people still snub the idea, parts of the U.S. have also begun to legalize medically-assisted suicide. An article announcing California’s decision to allow physician-assisted suicide from The Washington Times in October 2015 stated that PAS has already been legalized in four other states. Methods vary among the states: California’s method mirrors Canada’s in the sense that an individual must wait 15 days before the request can be fulfilled, while the mandates in Washington and Oregon do not require witnesses to be present when the lethal dose of medication is administered.
Five out of 50 states have already begun allowing medically assisted suicide to occur, but why not more? This is a pressing matter for all individuals living in the U.S. because it addresses the matter of a patient’s dignity during their final months or weeks of life. A person has no control over being born into this world, but should they have control over how they leave it?
In a Gallup Poll from 2006 focusing on whether terminally ill people should have the right to die, physicians were asked whether or not they should be allowed, by legal means, to end a person’s life using a painless procedure. The question also addresses that PAS would only be approved if the person had a fatal disease that could not be cured and if that person and their family requested this procedure. With this information in mind, 69 percent of physicians answered yes to the question.
This makes sense: Doctors likely do not want to watch their patients suffer or be in pain. If all necessary legal actions have been taken, there is no medical or legal explanation as to why a suffering individual should not be allowed to take his or her own life.
If a person suffering from a terminal disease wishes to die, the most ethical thing to do would be to simply allow their death to occur. Why prolong a person’s suffering and pain if it can easily end? Terrible diseases take away people’s right to make their own choices; they can control a person’s health, actions, how they live and when they die. If a terminally ill person wishes to take control of their circumstances, they should be the ones to end their life—not their