Open Thread: Should States Legalize Physician-Assisted Suicide?

Almost a dozen states are considering legislation that would allow terminally ill patients to seek assistance in ending their own lives.

Last year Massachusetts voters were asked on a ballot whether they would support legislation that would allow doctors to help terminally ill patients die. The vote failed, but according to Mickey MacIntyre, the chief program officer for Compassion & Choices a right-to-die advocacy group, it “sparked a national discussion” on physician-assisted suicide. He said, “The Massachusetts initiative lifted the consciousness of the nation and in particular the Northeast region to this issue that there are other alternatives patients and their families should have an opportunity to access.”

The Associated Press reports that there are now bills being considered to legalize assisted suicide, or related to the issue of a person’s right to die, in 10 different states across the nation. At least two bills on the issue have been presented in this year’s session of the Connecticut legislature, and lawmakers said the “first public hearing on the subject” may be held as early as this month. If the Connecticut General Assembly approves the legislation it will be the first state to do so.

Proponents of physician-assisted suicide legislation say they are seeing “strong support for allowing doctors to prescribe mentally competent, dying individuals with the medications needed to end their own lives.” They also point out that the “large number of baby boomers facing end-of-life issues themselves has made the issue more prominent in recent years.”

Oregon, which legalized assisted suicide in 1997, has copious data available on how the law has played out in practice. Overall, it is not an option chosen frequently, and no serious abuse of the system has been reported.

What do you think? Should mentally competent, terminally ill patients be allowed to chose when and how to end their own lives?

Should states hold doctors who prescribe medications to terminally ill patients who chose to end their own lives criminally responsible?

Photo: sara biljana/Flickr


About Kathryn DeHoyos

Kathryn DeHoyos currently resides on the outskirts of Austin, TX. She has 2 beautiful children, and is very happily un-married to her life partner DJ.


  1. When an animal’s suffering and can’t be saved, we mercifully put it to sleep. Apparently we can’t be bothered to show humans the same consideration.

  2. John Smith says:

    It always seems odd to me that the places in the US that are most for the states right to take someones life are the ones most against the persons right to take there own life…

    As I see it we have two questions:

    1) Should the state let people have help when they want to die (Effectively encourage helping people die)
    2) What is the risk of abuse.

    As I see it the second is a matter of getting the law right.
    The first is more complex. However I don’t think that anyone who has seen someone die a slow and painfull death over many weeks and months could argue otherwise. As long as it is part of a propper palliative care system then there should not be a problem.

  3. What do you think? Should mentally competent, terminally ill patients be allowed to chose when and how to end their own lives?

    yes i do agree with that. while there are understandable concerns that people could be manipulated into ending their lives by relatives and others, more interested in the inheritance etc. i still think that mentally competent, terminally ill patients should be able to end their lives with humanely – and withdrawal of artificial feeding and hydration is not a dignified death

  4. Archy:
    Reading the jezebel and the original thread now. What an epic clusterfuck. Bigotry like crazy, generalizations of what each movement is, how is it helpful? Call out the misogynists n misandrists but people should celebrate those truly interested in equality. The MRA’s and Feminists need to call out the extremists, kick em out, do whatever, they need each other to truly fight inequality n sexism.
    A circumcised guy said circumcision isn’t that bad…..You’re missing the point, the point is that as an adult you should be able to choose but as a child you should be left intact. Go tell those who have major problems from botched surgery that circumcision isn’t bad. Would people perform labiaplasty on babies too? It’s just a bit of excess skin right.
    Feminists Are Savagely Trolling This ‘Masculism’ Hashtag on Twitter
    So the tag was made as a joke and now SOME feminists onboard are making a joke of it, I have a question for them though. For the legitimate concerns, is it funny? Seems to be quite a few people taking it more seriously, hopefully I’ll see some feminists comment about that and agree instead of the focusing on the negative alone. But what is the point in trolling it further? Joining in on the “fun”? This goes beyond picking out the misogynist comments and pointing out the bad, it’s sinking to a lower level and really just shows how petty some feminists are acting along with the trolls and some of the MRA’s.

    Since there is an Open Thread I figure why not put this over here since talking about that tag goes way off topic.

    I can tell you this.

    I offered up another tag called #menarespeakingup

    And low and behold I got one retweet and the feminist I was engaging with said it was still wrong because it implies that men have been silenced and men’s voices are not silenced. And then she continues to go on and on about how men are not oppressed but women are (when I never said men were oppressed) and for men to go off and try to have their own spaces to fix their own issues diminishes the voices of women and distracts from the topics at hand.

    • Around the world there are men who are oppressed, unless conscription isn’t oppression? Look at the male deaths in war, how is that not oppression? Men are silenced ON CERTAIN topics, it’s extremely obvious.

      “for men to go off and try to have their own spaces to fix their own issues diminishes the voices of women and distracts from the topics at hand.”
      Yes, people like this want to control how men act. Distracts and diminishes the voices of women? That’s just a zero sum argument, that person is whataboutthewomenz’ing your argument. Reminds me of the SFU scandal where the women’s center wanted the men’s center to talk about women’s issues and seemed to only want the mens center to exist to deal with how men harm women. Why do they demand men’s attention on women’s issues so much? Are men not allowed to fix their own gender’s issues as well? Not to mention the utter dismissal attitude towards male issues when someone tries to reframe helping men as being harmful to helping women and acting like we should be focused on women.

  5. Yes, I watched my dad die a 6 week death where his body wasted away, any longer and it would have been hell for him more than it already was. People need to be able to die with dignity if they choose.

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