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?
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