End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Frontline: It’s a Patient’s right to choose when to end their lifeby Jay

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Death With Dignity Act May Face Amendment
The Western Front
Wednesday, July 6, 2011

On June 13, Western psychology professor Ethan Remmel chose to end his
life through the Death with Dignity Act.

Passed in 2008 in Washington State, the act allows terminally ill patients
with less than six months to live to obtain a prescription for a lethal dose of
medicine from their doctor. This isn’t a simple request. Washington state’s
law requires the patient’s physician to first inform the patient of alternative
options, such as palliative, hospice and pain management care.

The patient must also make two verbal requests to their physician, waiting
15 days between each request. After being approved, the patient must make
a written request to the physician, along with the attendance of two
witnesses who cannot be caretakers or family members.

When it comes to a person’s life, it’s the quality that matters, not the length.
People diagnosed with terminal and unbearable diseases often suffer for
months in a hospital bed, slowly wasting away until the disease finally kills
them.

If a patient is mentally competent enough to choose whether they want to
humanely end their own life, why should the government be allowed to
deprive them of that choice? Currently, only Washington and Oregon have
legalized the Death with Dignity act, but Vermont, Massachusetts,
Pennsylvania and Hawaii may follow suit. It’s the rest of the country that
needs to allow people to make their own decisions when choosing between
life and death.

One reason many people oppose assisted suicide is because it may target
low-income or vulnerable people. The Coalition Against Assisted Suicide’s
stance said patients who perceive themselves as a burden to their families
may choose assisted suicide as a way to shoulder the emotional and
monetary stress.

But if someone is in so much pain that their quality of life is drastically
altered, they should be given the option to end the pain in a controlled and
humane manner.

The Editorial Board is comprised of Editor-in-Chief Colin Diltz, Managing
Editor Jonathan Kull and Opinion Editor Brianne Beets.

Compassion & Choices does not recommend using the word suicide.
Those facing a terminal illness do not want to die but—by definition—
are dying. They are facing an imminent death and want the option to
avoid unbearable suffering.