On Friday, September 11, a law was approved in California’s state legislature to legalize assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. Assisted suicide and the right to die is one of the most controversial topics in today’s world.
Many lawmakers and terminally ill patients were losing sleep over the moral repercussions of the right to die and by extension assisted suicide. Assisted suicide is the practice of voluntary or assisted euthanasia in the case of terminal conditions to make death as painless as possible.
Starting in the Netherlands, the support for laws protecting one’s right to die has gained international momentum. The right to die is protected in several states in the U.S., including Oregon, Washington and Vermont. These policies are often referred to as “Death with Dignity,” as they allows those who are going to die to do so on their own terms.
In contrast, the right to die is a very controversial topic among patients, doctors, other healthcare professionals and lawmakers in California. All prior attempts to legalize self-euthanasia in California had failed.
Recently, activists were able to revive a bill to legalize assisted suicide in California which was fast-tracked by the Democrats.
Assisted suicide involves an “aid-in-dying drug”, which is a drug prescribed by a physician for a qualified individual, that the individual may choose to self-administer in order to bring about his or her death.”
By qualified individual the bill is referring to someone who is terminally ill and in pain, with no chance of survival. Those who decide to sign up for assisted suicide can expect a lengthy counseling process and many legal forms to ensure that every they know what they are getting into. The process is completely voluntary and the paperwork and counseling are meant as safeguards.
Opponents to the right to die bill argued that life is more important than human suffering, pain or emotional trauma.
Jeannette Lange, SLV’s counseling secretary, said that “I understand pain but it is difficult to decide my stance.”
In a random sample poll of students on campus, if given the choice between dying of illness and killing themselves humainly via pill, all of the students questioned agreed that they would take the pill.
Alice Cato, a staff member at the County Office of Education said that she was “All in favor of this bill,” and that she thought that, “people have a right to die.”
In addition, Cato added that she believed that, “People should be given the choice to die rather than wait in anticipation to die from their illness.” Cato also thought that the safeguards were an important part of the right to die bill.
Senior Alexander Berritto said that he was, “All for it if the person is in pain.”
For many terminally ill patients this bill passing means peace of mind knowing that they can die when they are ready and not through suffering for them and their family.
In many ways the terminally ill are ending their suffering in a humane and dignified way so it will be a relief to them to know that this bill just passed into law in California.