Right to Die: Should It Be Legal?

Recently, two cases involving the “right to die” have been in the news. One more so than the other.

The first is the case of twenty-nine-year-old Brittany Maynard. Sadly, Brittany was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. She attempted surgery which did remove most of the tumor but it grew back in a period of two months. At that point, she declined further treatment, to live her last days to the fullest.

With one caveat. She wanted to choose the method and time of her death.

Her family intentionally moved to Oregon which in 1997 enacted the Death with Dignity Act which allows physicians to prescribe lethal medications expressly for the purpose of ending one’s life.

Which she did on November 1, 2014.

The second case is of Nancy Fitzmaurice, age 12, whose mother petitioned the court in the UK and won the right to let her daughter die by withdrawing food and fluids. It took 14 days. Sometimes I have trouble knowing for sure if things reported in England papers are true because I don’t know what reliable sources are “over the pond” so take this with a grain of salt. I researched Snopes and didn’t find it listed there as false.

Here is my take.

Case One:

Though sad, Brittany is an adult with a diagnosed terminal condition. Though I think every moment of life is precious and wouldn’t choose this for myself, I support her right as an adult to do this. I think the right to die should be severely limited to cases like Brittany’s and not be used for things like depression, mental illness and most chronic conditions. I’m not an expert on the Oregon law but I think two independent physicians should certify that the patient does have a terminal condition that will lead to death.

Case Two:

This case, if true, I am wholly against. First of all, food and water is a basic need. Allowing her to die by withdrawing food and fluid was torture. I’m sorry but it’s true. You can’t even do that to an animal without being put in jail. But– is that the only way it’s “appetizing” to the public? Honestly, actively taking her life would have been more humane. I think if this family could not emotionally, physically, or financially take care of her anymore than other alternatives should have been considered. She was a minor. She was disabled. These are who we are called to care for.

What say you?

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