KORENICH: Physician-assisted suicide should be legalized nationwide

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Photo by Anabelle McDonald

Physician-assisted suicide is legal in five states: California, Montana, Oregon, Colorado and Vermont.

Currently, there are five states that have legalized physician-assisted suicide: Oregon, Vermont, California, Montana and Colorado.

Physician-assisted suicide can be defined as the voluntary termination of one’s own life by the administration of a lethal substance and includes help from a physician. Some reasons people choose to end their lives this way include unbearable pain, a poor quality of life due to an illness, or incurable, lifelong disease. Euthanasia should be legalized everywhere to allow people to end their lives on their own terms.

The first time I heard about euthanasia was after reading a Chicago Tribune article on the case of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman who had brain cancer. She became an advocate for the terminally ill who wanted to end their own lives. She was living in San Francisco and had to move to Oregon in order to take advantage of the Death with Dignity Act. This is an act that allows terminally ill patients to end their lives with the help of physicians. According to a Facebook post, she passed away peacefully in her bed surrounded by family and loved ones.

Luckily, things worked out the way Maynard wanted them to, but it didn’t come without some struggles. To die peacefully, she had to uproot her whole life in San Francisco and move to Oregon. Patients shouldn’t have to move in order to do what they want in their lives and this case is a great example of how valuable euthanasia really can be.

In 2009, Medicare paid $55 million in hospital bills during the last two months of patients’ lives. Research also found that 20-30 percent of these medical expenses had no meaningful impact on those people’s lives. In comparison, drugs for physician-assisted suicide cost about $75-100. It is unfair that families are forced to spend thousands of dollars to keep a loved one alive when the patient in question would rather be dead.

The Catholic Church is one of the groups most against physician-assisted suicide. It believes that life is the most basic gift that God has given people, and although humans have stewardship over those lives, they do not have absolute dominion.

The Catholic Church teaches that as a steward of this life, people must not harm themselves or anybody else. Not only are they saying people shouldn’t choose physician-assisted suicide, but also that doctors shouldn’t administer it.

Much of the controversy regarding euthanasia comes down to the question of whether or not patients have the right to choose the time of their death, or could go on living an uncomfortable and painful life.

Everyone should be able to end their lives in the way that they choose. Patients who are in a horrible amount of pain should have the choice to end their lives and also have the choice of how people will remember them. No one wants to be remembered as being in a hospital bed for their last few months, especially when this puts a damper on the lives of the patient’s loved ones.

In places where physician-assisted suicide is not legal, people go to other measures to end their lives. It would surely cause families less trauma to know what was going to happen to their loved one, rather than to be surprised by their death.

Despite the controversy that surrounds euthanasia, it should be allowed in all states. Power should be given to the patient to decide what they want to do with their lives. This method of death not only provides a lot of relief for patients, but families as well, and is a very viable option not only for emotional reasons but monetary as well.