Do You Think Physician-Assisted Death For Terminally Ill Patients Should Be Legal?

Last month, brain cancer patient Brittany Maynard drew national attention when she opted to end her life in Oregon through a physician distributed medication under Oregon's Death with Dignity Act. The Death with Dignity Act allows terminally ill patients to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician. Currently three states have laws that allow this, and aid-in-dying practices are protected in two others. Many others are hearing proposals for laws like these such as New York and Pennsylvania.

While some think the choice should be the right of the patient so as to avoid an extended painful death, opponents of the laws argue that people such as disabled or elderly could be pushed into the decision.

Where do you stand on the issue of physician assisted suicide? Do you think it should be legal? Cast your vote in today's Hopkins Happenings and feel free to explain your stance in the comments below.

Do You Think Physician-Assisted Death For Terminally Ill Patients Should Be Legal?

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15 Comments

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Linda McGee December 19, 2014 at 10:54 am

Life belong to God and not man. We no longer value life and God great power over man and life.

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Bobbie December 18, 2014 at 10:07 am

Let the individual decide. When the day in day out pain is too much, the spirit is broken, and the heart and soul have had enough, it is a personal decision. I would want that for myself. We treat our animal friends better at the end of life than our people. A humane passing over should be an option.

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Bonnie C December 16, 2014 at 10:01 am

Insurance companies make this call all the time (the patients I see are only coming for an MRI to evaluate whether they should have surgery, and the insurance companies frequently deny even an MRI). If someone is terminally ill, they should be able to decide whether their last few dollars are spent on futile attempts at prolonging life. My family has been instructed to not medicate if there is no hope for improvement. I weigh in on the side of quality of life, instead of quantity. I don't want to live a long time with a severe life-wasting illness. I'd rather spend my last days lucid & interacting with my family than spend a long time in a medical induced coma, hooked to machines. Death with dignity is the logical next step to a life with dignity.

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CHRISTINA SIMMONS December 16, 2014 at 9:50 am

NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT (DOCTOR OR GOVERNMENT)TO ALLOW A TERMINALLY ILL PERSON TO SUFFER A PROLONGED DEATH. NO ONE SHOULD IMPOSE THEIR PERONAL BELIEFS ON TERMINALLY ILL PEOPLE WHO ARE OF SOUND MIND AND CHOOSE OF THEIR FREE WILL NOT TO SUFFER INDEFINTELY.

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Bridget Morris December 16, 2014 at 12:02 am

If you are interested in this topic please watch the Netflix documentary "How to die in Oregon."

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S December 15, 2014 at 10:38 pm

As a Christian, I do not believe in Physician assisted suicide. I believe it is no different from a person just taking a gun and putting it to his or her head. My bible teaches that God gives life and He only has the right to take it. I do believe however in making a patient comfortable with as much medication as it takes to achieve that goal in the last moments of their life, and not prolonging life when it is futile to do so. Even if by medicating that patient respiration would be affected, the patient should be made comfortable, but not be medicated with the intention to stop their breathing or their heart, hence end their life. We better think very carefully about this particular can of worms!!!

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Diana March 10, 2015 at 8:16 am

There is a difference if the person is terminally ill and will only suffer and deteriorate. Just because you can keep a person alive, doesn't mean you should prolong their life. Why should allowing them to drift away peacefully be wrong? My grandmother made me promise I wouldn't let them intubate her and keep her alive for no purpose. I had to break that promise because she had given her medical power of attorney to her daughter. She suffered and I mean suffered, physically and mentally/emotionally for weeks. Every day I saw the accusation in her eyes and I tried my best to tell her there was nothing I could do. For the first week she kept writing me notes which were almost illegible, but said 'out'. The next two weeks she didn't write or do anything, but those eyes would open when I touched her hand and she looked so sad and in more emotional pain than anything else. I will never forget, and I wish she could have written to a doctor that she wanted to be 'let go' and he could have helped her. All I'm saying is that she knew she was dying anyway and she should have had the choice to say 'enough' and have her wishes followed.

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Cathy December 15, 2014 at 4:25 pm

We need to talk more about ending treatment for the terminally ill, increasing palliative care, and letting people go. That's not the same as killing them.

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karl December 15, 2014 at 12:03 pm

we should let adults decide there own fate. for nothin is more personal than your own death we all have to face it and noone has ever beaten it.as far as letting the man upstairs decide i work in an icu and with the drugs and the devicese we have now. we can keep a body going for weeks or months the fact is a human being has to turn off a pump or a switch to let you die. we have taken god out of the equation.

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C December 15, 2014 at 11:09 am

If medical care is truely a service and the patient is the driver of those services, of course patients should be able (when they are competently able) to decide when they've had enough. I believe the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness include the right to get help ending one's own life if that is what an individual wants for whatever reason. Euthanizing a pet (our choice as a steward over another being) is not at all the same as a competent individual choosing to end their own life. We aren't talking about euthanizing grandma. Let grandma make all of her own choices (including if they are aggressive care for a terminal condition) and then let her loved ones respect them.

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Mary December 15, 2014 at 9:12 am

I am really "on the fence" regarding this issue. When our pet animals are sick, we are compassionate and allow them to be euthanized so shouldn't humans be allowed to make this decision for themselves also? However, on the other hand I am afraid in an attempt to reduce medical care costs, the decision eventually could and would be taken out of the patient's hands and that is a scary thought. Maybe it is wiser to just let the "Man upstairs" decide?

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Denise D. Howard December 15, 2014 at 8:33 am

I want to say yes, but with a reason for my decision. A patient should be able to make this decision only if they are of sound mind. If the patient is still making other important decisions in their life then I believe they should be able to say they have endured enough pain and/or hardship in dealing with the illness and they are ready to be at peace.

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Peter Terry MD,MA December 15, 2014 at 7:57 am

Please see the article in the Hopkin s Medical News/ Spring 1995 in which I debated Dr Jack Kevorkian about this issue. This is a more complex problem now than then, particularly in this era of attempts to reduce medical care costs.

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Anna January December 15, 2014 at 7:50 am

I watched my father suffer on and off for 10 years. The last year of his life was horrible. He laid in a hospital bed unable to do anything. My mother watched him day in and day out suffering. Finally, he passed away 12/21/2006 here at Bayview.

I also watched my oldest brother suffer for two (2) months. Nothing could be done for him. His wife watched him day in and day out suffering. He was an inpatient in the main hospital here at Bayview for almost a month. He was finally transferred to the Plaza level at the John R. Burton Pavilion (here at Bayview). My brother finally passed on 9/16/2011.

Although, both my father and brother received excellent care, they suffered far to long. Physican-Assisted death for terminally ill patients should be legal in the state of Maryland.

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Paul December 15, 2014 at 7:49 am

I hope that medicine/healthcare can move past extending life as an endpoint and death as a failure and look towards quality of life and putting patient's desires of what to get out of our knowledge and abilities first.

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