No such thing as 'death with dignity'

The death of Brittany Maynard has brought to light the issue of physician-assisted suicide and the moral issues associated with the Death with Dignity Act. What Brittany Maynard chose to do is legal in the states of Vermont, Washington and Oregon. According to “The Washington State Department of Health 2013 Death with Dignity Act Report,” the DDA, under many eligibility requirements, “allows adult residents in the state with six months or less to live to request lethal doses of medication from 
their physician.”

There is a push to expand the DDA nationwide. However, before the country rushes to support this legislation, people must think about what the Death with Dignity Act actually legalizes and says for our country. There are countless questions generated by the act.

If state legislators pass the DDA, it will allow for those who are terminally ill to simply give up – give up the fight for life, and give up on hope for a cure or miracle. People claim those who choose to end their life through the DDA are “courageous” and are able to “die with dignity,” while in reality the brave victims are the ones who decide to fight.

If the DDA is enacted and citizens begin to take advantage of it, there are bound to be repercussions to the funding of cancer research. Cancer research donations come from those hoping for, but with the option to die before cancer can take effect, the need for cancer research donations will seem less urgent and necessary. The decrease in stories and testimonies of cancer victims will lessen the momentum cancer research funding needs to keep its research up.

Every cancer diagnosis is different, and there are individual cases of terminally ill patients who live long past when doctors predict their death. The DDA would potentially ruin the chances of these cases continuing due to people dying long before cancer could take effect. Those who choose to take the pill provided by the DDA would lose the chance of surpassing their predicted death.

The Death with Dignity Act Organization claims that the life-ending pill has the purpose of bringing terminally ill people comfort in a dignified manner chosen by the patient. I understand that it may be senseless to prolong the unbearable pain caused by a terminal illness. But if the alternative is death, what does that say about the value of life? With an act so controversial and a result so permanent, we all need to think twice about expanding the Death with Dignity Act before we jump on the bandwagon.

Carolyn Duke is a sophomore majoring in secondary education and Spanish.

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