TW: Suicide & Death
The first couple of years after I got sick, and didn’t have any diagnosis’s I thought I was dying. I was called a “medical mystery” and a “head scratcher” over and over again, and I thought that I had some obscure disease that was going to kill me. Even though I still don’t have many answers and no great diagnosis, I’ve had so many tests done that I know I’m probably not dying anymore than the next person is. During that time I watched a documentary on Netflix called How to Die in Oregon, which is about the Death with Dignity Act.
Five states in the U.S. have passed a “Death with Dignity Act”: California, Washington, Oregon, and Vermont. It is also available in Montana with a court decision. This act let’s individuals with a terminal illness, who are given a prognosis of six months or less to live, the opportunity to end their lives with a prescription that causes you to die peacefully within minutes. You have to have completely established residence in one of these states in order to be eligible.
Before I got sick I didn’t think much about dying besides where I would go afterword. Sure, anyone could randomly drop dead from some unknown medical issue, or die in a car wreck going to the grocery store, but these weren’t things that crossed my mind often. I think everyone should watch this documentary, because it really opened my eyes and changed my opinion on the subject.
The “Death with Dignity Act” is just that. Letting people with terminal illnesses take control of the way they die, in the most dignified way possible. For the record I don’t think choosing to wait till the illness kills you isn’t “dignified”; it is a completely valid decision, and I think everyone deserves to die the way they choose when put in a situation like this. Unfortunately most of America seems to either disagree or doesn’t see it as a big enough issue to make new laws about.
In each of the states that has legalized physical assisted suicide, there are different rules. All of them require either a MD or DO to prescribe the medication and for the patient to be 18 or over. They also require the patient to be conscious of the effects of the medication both when they request the prescription and when they decide to take it. When you choose to take the medication you must be able to take it without assistance.
The people who have taken this route or are advocates for “Death with Dignity” believe this act will give terminally ill people the power to decide their own fate, and give more stability in the situation. Most people who have choose to get the prescription because they don’t want to wither away while their families watch, or live in extreme pain only to die from the illness. They want to die while they still have their minds, and are the people their family and friends know and love. Being able to decide when and where you die can give the terminally ill peace of mind and closure.
I have been in so much pain over the past five years that I can completely understand why someone would make this decision. This is something I would like to see legalized on a federal level. The hardship of a terminal illness is something I will never be able to understand completely, but I have watched my great aunt die from cancer, and it was horrific. It started out as cancer of the salivary gland (she smoked) and ended up taking over her whole body, including her brain. Her personality changed completely and she would cry put in pain everyday for months before she died. I think healthy or “abled” people often have a hard time understanding the complexities of this kind of situation. It’s easier to see when you’ve dealt with health issues and seen others suffer.
Another resource I would suggest checking out is the story CNN did on Brittany Maynard a 29 year old woman with brain cancer who moved to Oregon so she could receive the drugs for physician assisted suicide. In the end death with dignity is about giving people the choice to end their pain when they know there is no cure or treatment to help them. No one wants to suffer, and I believe this is a dignified decision and a right everyone should have. I hope this will be legalized, but with our new government I don’t think anything will change for a while, but I am hopeful.
What are your thoughts on the Death with Dignity Acts?
Let me know below,