Tuesday, November 6, 2012

When Does A Person Have A Right To Die?

A fellow blogger wrote about physician-assisted suicide and it got me thinking. 


Should a person have a right to choose death when faced with a terminal illness that will kill them slowly and painfully?
Imagine this scenario: Your doctor diagnoses you with a terminal case of cancer that would have you under the ground within 6 months without treatment. You're offered a treatment that may extend your life by another 6 months but it produces nasty side effects. So, technically, you will be alive but will you be living? What will your quality of life be like? You can say, “Thanks, but no thanks” and let the cancer kill you slowly. This refusal of treatment would be AMA - against medical advice - but you can "choose to refuse".
What if there was another option? Why do you have to suffer as you die?


There are some who believe we should not have to suffer; that we should have the choice of a doctor-assisted suicide. I am one of those people.
Of course there have to be safeguards put in place. Massachusetts is voting on a bill today (November 6, 2012), Ballot Initiative (Number 2) which is referred to as "Death with Dignity."  Here’s some of what it states:

·         A licensed physician can prescribe a lethal dose of medication to a terminally ill adult patient
·         This patient is an adult who has a prognosis of dying within the next 6 months
·         This patient must be deemed mentally competent
·         The request for the script must be made orally twice & witnessed in written form
·         15 days must fall between the two oral requests
·         The mental capacity of the patient & terminal diagnosis must be verified by a second physician

This does not cover every detail of the bill but it’s the meat of it. It makes sense.


Now imagine this scenario: an elderly man who is basically healthy but whose body is slowing down is becoming depressed. For one, he is unable to be independent as he has been for his entire life due to his advanced age. For another, he DOES have a medical condition that causes him to aspirate anything he eats and drinks. He has been complaining about feeling like food is getting stuck in his throat/chest area to his wife (who controls the money and whether or not he get to go see the doctor) and his children but everyone assumes he is faking it for attention or just being a pain in the ass.

He develops habits in attempts to clear his throat that have him in the bathroom, hacking & coughing for up to 2 hours at a time that leave him sweaty and weak. The family is annoyed by his eccentric behavior rather than taking him to see a specialist. This goes on and on; it progressively gets worse for years.
His quality of life suffers dramatically. He can’t eat or drink comfortably and nobody will listen to him. He becomes very depressed and angry. The family reacts with anger and annoyance. He reacts with more anger and crying spells. He regularly wishes he could just die. He states this out loud. The family begins to believe he should be allowed this right and when a feeding tube is recommended by a general physician, they don’t want to put one in because they want to “respect his wishes” of dying. A death that would be slow and painful; a death caused strictly by starvation.

Here is a case where a person should NOT be allowed to kill themselves. Isn’t it apparent that the old man’s wish for death is based on his severe depression? He is not terminally ill nor does he have a debilitating disease that requires extensive medical intervention. He was aspirating & his cries for help went ignored. This led to a piss-poor quality of life which led to depression which led to a desire to die.

Depression is not a valid reason in the 
"Right to Die" argument

No comments:

Post a Comment