Pros and Cons of the Death with Dignity Act

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Certain places in the United States of America like Oregon have legalized the Death with Dignity Act. It’s an act that legalizes physician assisted dying or physician assisted suicide. It’s an act that allows those who are terminally ill to choose to end their lives painlessly and peacefully.

The debate surrounding this act is heated, and most often religion comes into the picture. People argue that only God gets to decide when a person dies and no one else is allowed to intervene. On the other hand, others also argue that allowing someone to end their lives is a humane and compassionate thing to do rather than make them suffer more.

Is it really fair to allow someone the right to die when they choose to end pain and suffering? Here are the arguments in favor of the right to die and those that are against it.

List of Pros of the Death with Dignity Act

1. It ends the pain and suffering of the patient.
Terminal illness brings a lot of pain and suffering, not only on the part of the patient but on their families as well. Some patients don’t want to see their loved ones suffer anymore and some don’t want to bear the burden of being in pain all the time anymore.

Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman from California was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer on January 1, 2014. She was told she had six months to live. In November, she chose to die on her own terms and to do so, she moved back to Oregon which is one of the states with Death with Dignity laws.

2. It allows patients to die with dignity.
For Maynard, she chose to die on her own terms and not by the effects of aggressive cancer. Some also prefer to end their life while still in possession of their physical and mental capacities rather than lose them later due to illness.

3. It reduces the financial burden of healthcare.
Being ill costs a lot of money, and for cases where death is certain, some would choose to end their life now rather than have their family suffer financially. While some families are willing to spend as much to keep their loved ones living for as long as possible, some terminally ill patients don’t want their family to fall into financial trouble.

List of Cons of the Death with Dignity Act

1. The federal government isn’t in agreement with the right to die.
As of this writing, only Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana and New Mexico allow physician assisted death. But even if this is the case, the federal government is against this act.

2. It violates the Hippocratic oath.
Doctors take the Hippocratic oath when they begin their career. It calls on physicians to swear to uphold specific ethical standards. It contains the line “With regard to healing the sick, I will devise and order for them the best diet, according to my judgment and means; and I will take care that they suffer no hurt or damage.”

3. It can lead to legalized murder.
Helping someone end their life is complicated because it can lead to an abuse of the system which can then lead to legalized murder.