A terminally ill patient in hospice considering assisted suicide
Although nearly three-quarters of Americans believe physician-assisted suicide should be legal, only half believe it is morally acceptable.

Today, New Jersey becomes the seventh state to allow physicians to write a prescription for life-ending medication for terminally ill patients. New Jersey follows California, Colorado, Washington, Vermont, Hawaii, and Oregon in allowing physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. Activists spent nearly eight years lobbying the state to enact what proponents call the "death with dignity" law. But the law has its fair share of detractors, including most major religions.

New Jersey's new law follows similar laws enacted in other states. Patients must have a terminal diagnosis that will end their life within 6 months. They must verbally ask their doctor twice in the span of 15 days for the life-ending medication, and then must submit a request in writing confirming their full consent and knowledge of what their request entails. As safeguards, a second doctor must verify the terminal diagnosis and doctors may consult a mental health professional to confirm the mental faculties of the patient. Only then can the patient receive the prescription.

Public Support for Assisted Suicide High

Who is in favor of assisted suicide? Well, the American public for one. Per a 2018 Gallup poll, 72% of Americans say doctors should be able to help terminally ill patients die. Notably, men support physician-assisted suicide more than women, young adults are more in favor than seniors, and Democrats more than Republicans. The only demographic surveyed strongly against are those who attend church weekly- just over one-in-three regular churchgoers support it. Support has stood solid amongst the American public for nearly 30 years. Since 1990, support for physician-assisted death for the terminally ill has not slipped below a 64% favorability rating.

Assisted suicide measures gained steam in recent years in large part due to activist Brittany Maynard. In the weeks leading up to her November 1st, 2014 death, Maynard renewed public discussion about the assisted suicide debate. 16 million people read a People.com article covering her story and decision to end her own life after her fatal brain cancer diagnosis. The 29-year-old woman gave a new face to a debate where the average age of those seeking physician-assisted dying is 71. Maynard spent her last months advocating for assisted suicide, and her widow Dan Diaz continues her work today. He acts as one of the most visible activists in the death with dignity community.

Religious Objections

So why do so few states have right to die laws if the American public is in favor? Well, even though Americans pretty heavily support physician-assisted suicide, they're split on if it's moral. When asked about the morality of doctor-assisted suicide, only 54% said it was morally acceptable. 42% believed it was morally wrong.

The question of morality lines up with what most major religions say about physician-assisted suicide. Of all major religions and denominations in the United States, only one (Unitarian Universalist Association) is in support. All others reject physician-assisted suicide, or are not clear one way or the other. Most Christian denominations believe that it devalues the sacred gift of life and violates one of the Ten Commandments: "Thou Shalt Not Kill." In fact, when terminally ill Brittany Maynard took her own life, a top Vatican official called her actions "reprehensible" and said the public should condemn her actions.

The American Medical Association also does not support physician-assisted death. Believing it causes "more harm than good", the AMA is standing firm on their stance that "euthanasia is fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as a healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks. Euthanasia could readily be extended to incompetent patients or other vulnerable populations."

Death With Dignity

Since the 1998 implementation of Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, 3,478 terminally ill people across six states have taken life-ending medications.

Emboldened by legislative wins in states like New Jersey, activists are unlikely to slow down. And those in opposition are also just as unlikely to throw in the towel. Ultimately, breakthroughs in medical technology will continue to extend the years and months that the terminally ill can live after receiving a fatal diagnosis- but the ability of modern medicine to provide a high quality of life is woefully unable to keep up. Those in favor of death with dignity laws say that any terminally ill person should have the option to safely and peacefully end their life on their terms. Those in opposition- including the American Medical Association- say that assisting death is immoral and condemnable.

Only one thing is for sure- the debate isn't over. What are your thoughts? Is physician-assisted suicide a right we should all have when our time comes? Or is it an unethical devaluation of the gift of human life?

80 comments

  1. Jack Gerber's Avatar Jack Gerber

    To oppose death with dignity such as physician assisted suicide is like prohibiting someone from being thrown off the edge of the Earth. The idea of the Flat Earthers that the Earth is saucer shaped is the same absolute ignorance that the idea that consciousness ends totally at death is. The evidence for what is technically called the Law of Conservation of Consciousness, loosely reincarnation, is so overwhelming that not to accept it is just due to total ignorance, If you know that consciousness will continue then ending a particular life a bit sooner is on a par with taking a pain medicine.

    1. kimberly's Avatar kimberly

      Once to die and then the judgement. Resurrection....not reincarnation

      1. Bob Anderson's Avatar Bob Anderson

        Uh, no Kim..."reincarnation" is the correct term.

      2. Crystal Rene blackwood's Avatar Crystal Rene blackwood

        No, the needs to be more ministers out going into the hospitals ministering reconciling back to God through Christ Jesus They Don't Know There's Hope while in the land of the living it is better to be a live dog than a dead lion.

    2. JT's Avatar JT

      "The evidence for ... reincarnation, is so overwhelming that not to accept it is just due to total ignorance." I'm open to review said 'evidence'. Can you please provide it, or link(s) to it?

      1. kimberly's Avatar kimberly

        like tales of miracles involving coming back to life by so-called Christians, tales of reincarnation are just as subjective and would not be valid in a court of law.

      2. Jack Gerber's Avatar Jack Gerber

        That is absolutely appropriate to demand. You will find many, many examples of the evidence listed on Quora but this is a recommended place to see a summary: https://www.quora.com/If-reincarnation-is-real-where-do-new-souls-come-from

    3. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      I don’t know that consciousness will continue. I don’t see how mine will when I’m dead, so yes, please provide your evidence of reincarnation.

      ?❤️

  1. kimberly's Avatar kimberly

    I value life but modern medicine has the capability to extend existence past the point of what can be termed life. Consequently, my opinion leans toward the equal capability to end existence once life has ended but the person is long past what could be considered living.

    1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

      Kim...nicely stated...Peace...Tom B

      1. kimberly's Avatar kimberly

        The political potential remains however that allowing assisted suicide will prohibitively limit life-extending healthcare by mandate.

    2. Gabriel Ruiz's Avatar Gabriel Ruiz

      My thoughts exactly. Forcing someone to live in agony towards an inevitable death is inhumane

    3. Robyn's Avatar Robyn

      Thank you Kim. I couldn't have stated this better myself. I testified to get this billed passed in NJ and believe strongly for many reasons. Doctors have extended lives far past where reasonably necessary for good and bad reasons. I don't believe that it is an assisted suicide if someone is already terminally ill and doesn't have long to live any way...it just cuts down on that persons suffering.

  1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

    Respectfully...no religious or other organization should be able to prevent anyone from committing suicide...the law should be universal...while I personally feel that there are spiritual repercussions from committing suicide, it is absurd to prevent anyone from doing so...Peace...Tom B

    1. kimberly's Avatar kimberly

      that logic extends to "nobody should need healthcare to extend life...just live until you don't want to then die".

      1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

        Kim, your logic is so silly and poor at times. There are times I seriously question your education.

        Of course people need healthcare, but there comes a time in one’s life when it becomes blatantly obvious by all concerned, including medics, that it’s time to pull the plug, metaphorically speaking.

        ?❤️

      2. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

        Kim...if you are saying it is a matter of choice, I agree...Peace...Tom B

        1. kimberly's Avatar kimberly

          One can choose to die any time. Not just when one is too sick to pull the trigger after a life of booze and red meat.

          1. Deb's Avatar Deb

            If you are comparing a terminally ill person as example of “after a life of booze and red meat” that’s just irresponsible and mean. Good and wonderful people become terminally ill, not just from whatever vices you’ve attached to it. There are much worse scenarios than death and death with dignity should be a right.

      3. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

        I get your point Kim. My apologies.

        ?♥️

      4. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

        Kimberly, you and Tom are sickos!

        1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

          Carl...Respectfully...I am open to your explaining how your calling Kim and me "sickos" promotes spiritual progress, and contributes to a better understanding of life...Peace...Tom B

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    When that time is very near, and the person is obviously suffering, I would be all for it.

    ?♥️

  1. Skye Riversong's Avatar Skye Riversong

    If I keep my dog suffering, in intractable pain or with no quality of life, and fail to give my beloved pet an easy and painless exit, I could find myself charged with animal cruelty. But for some reason we have the hubris to state categorically that forcing human beings to suffer a protracted and hideous end is appropriate, that their suffering ennobles them, or that they somehow deserve.it, as penance for their sins. Who the hell are we, certainly who the hell is our government, to issue such a judgment?

    1. kimberly's Avatar kimberly

      You can take your dog out back of the barn and put a bullet in its head. no big deal except the dog has no choice in the matter. the problem with assisted suicide is that it will eventually extend to government-run healthcare in which the government not only allows suicide but prohibits protracted life-extending practices using advanced medicine except for those whom it chooses.

    2. Vicki's Avatar Vicki

      My thoughts exactly. I believe we should quit calling it assisted suicide as I do not believe it’s taking away life but adding dignity to a life that is already ending here in Earth. I do not believe God is punishing anyone who chooses this assistance to move on to the Light that awaits us.

  1. Greg's Avatar Greg

    See there's supposed to be this thing called Separation of Church and State. And yet we're allowing religious people to enact laws that codify their religious beliefs.

    I literally could not care less what your religions says about suicide, your religious rights end at your nose and do not extend beyond that. People of faith have no say whatsoever in any lawmaking process that affects non-religious people, and the sooner they accept that the sooner we will all be able to live at least a little more peacefully together.

    1. Val jester's Avatar Val jester

      Do you feel better?

    2. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Totally agree with you Greg, you are right on. Thanks for your post.

      ?❤️

      1. kimberly's Avatar kimberly

        I prefer to have lawmakers with morals myself. Not interested in living under the government of perverts.

        1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

          Lawmakers have morals? Since when? And those that say they do, what do they base those morals on?

          ?❤️

          1. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

            It says in the dictionary that morals are an individual's set of principles. So being morally astute must mean being true to yourself, no matter how demented, perverted, or evil you happen to be.

          2. kimberly's Avatar kimberly

            An individual can be raised without morals. Consequently your assertion is not correct.

        2. Gary's Avatar Gary

          You are already living under a government of perverts. Have you not followed posts of the President's thoughts about women? Let alone anything else.

    3. kimberly's Avatar kimberly

      Separation of church and state is a paraphrase. It is NOT in the first amendment. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion has NOTHING to do with expunging Christianity from the state.

      1. Gary's Avatar Gary

        Respectfully suggest that you read correspondence of Jefferson and Adams as well as those of Madison. Also the Federalist Papers. They clearly state that they view organized religion in state affairs as a threat and clearly state that Christianity is not a founding religion. Also, the First Amendment does not establish the right of anyone to force their religious beliefs on others.

  1. Ben's Avatar Ben

    There's no reason why any adult can't have this option.

    1. kimberly's Avatar kimberly

      wrong....there are lots of reasons. Adulthood is not a valid criterion for suicide.

      1. Thomas White's Avatar Thomas White

        sovereignty and dignity are. Both of those are conferred at birth, so indeed, adulthood is not a criterion as it is more fundamental than that - being a living creature of this planet (or any other) is.

  1. John A Anderson, CD, CIF Mons ON's Avatar John A Anderson, CD, CIF Mons ON

    In Canada, it has been legal for years. The law's VERY specific as to the fact that there must be a 10 day period between requests, and a further 10 day delay AFTER approval. A second opinion is necessary, and the condition must be terminal with no hope of immediate recovery. The person has to be of sound enough mind to understand the request, on the day chosen for the activity. Immediately before the set of injections is given, the patient is asked if they still want to go through with it, A negative answer, anywhere along the line, means the process has to start all over again. My father-in-law exercised the option in 2017.

    1. kimberly's Avatar kimberly

      Canada should be emulating the United States. Not the reverse. And, its interesting that Canada has government-run healthcare. The impression of Canada is that healthcare is limited so just kill the terminals so they don't cost the state. Canada is NOT a good argument for this option.

      1. Greg's Avatar Greg

        Actually, Kimberly, if you had ANY real, first-hand, legitimate experience regarding the Canadian healthcare system, you MIGHT be entitled to make such comments. However, you come off as a Gen-X/Baby-Roomer who has been spoonfed anti-socialist garbage since birth and has never done a lick of research on their own. I'm honestly not surprised though, after reviewing your hateful, deranged, mad ravings through these comments calling for other people to be harmed, other nations to fall, and other religious to be eradicated.

        Such a lovely person you are.

        1. JT's Avatar JT

          STOP with the ad hominem attacks!!! ... everyone! Please.It's just disgusting.

          1. kimberly's Avatar kimberly

            Yes. Any kind of licking is DISGUSTING

  1. Christian's Avatar Christian

    Eugenics demands executions of unwanted minority groups, such as the sick.

    Assisted becomes expected, becomes demanded becomes manditory.

    Health insurance companies & governments have a financial incentive to execute the old, sick, & wounded.

    All decisions are the patients choices. This is the importance of Advanced Directives. You decide what you want & hospice care can ease painful passing. Lots pf medications are available to help.

    1. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

      I can understand how someone who is terminally ill, and in a lot of pain that there's very little chance of ever ever going away should have the right to commit suicide, but suicide for a lesser reason is the same as murder, and is definitely against the law, as it should be.. Anyone who wants to kill themselves for a lesser reason needs to see a good psychiatrist, for they aren't playing with a full deck. They probably ought to be taking medication for that problem, and it might not be a bad idea to lock them in a padded cell. Anyone who disagrees with that probably also needs to be psychoanalyzed.

      1. kimberly's Avatar kimberly

        Can you understand how such a policy would eventually lead to withdrawal of life-extending healthcare as being too costly when suicide is the cheaper alternative?

      2. Mary Shaw's Avatar Mary Shaw

        I think you have to experience something to, not a only do particular jobs but, also to make comments and judgements

  1. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

    I was in the hospital room with my grandmother when she died. She was 92years old, and had a lot of things wrong with her, but wasn't terminally I'll. Three days prior she was at home working in her garden, when she got a chest pain, and had my uncle give her a ride to the hospital. She seemed to know she was near the end, and signed something so they wouldn't attempt to revive her. She slipped into a metabolic coma and her organs started shutting down. Her digestive system was one of the first to go. She hadn't been able to eat or drink anything for seventeen hours when she passed away. A close friend was in the room with us. Since I knew Grandma was a fighter, and wouldn't give up until everything shut down completely. I told Grandma that at times like this we have to let go, and let God. "There are a lot of people waiting to see you in Heaven, Grandma. There's all kinds of food in Heaven, and it doesn't cost anything." Just then, our friend said "She quit breathing"! To that I responded "I guess so. She went to Heaven to get something to eat." I'm glad I was there to help end her suffering, and help her cross over to the other side of the light. For many years she spoke of staying in her house as a ghost, but that's not what she did. I bet she's in Heaven pigging out right now.

  1. Phil greytak's Avatar Phil greytak

    If we are free to end a life before it begins (birth) then why not end a life at its ends?

  1. Bob's Avatar Bob

    I am 70 years old and starting to think seriously about what the future holds. I find it hard to justify a position that my goal should be to extend life on earth for as long as possible. That seems to be contrary to the religious belief that there is an after life (wanting to extend my stay on earth would seem to imply that life on earth is all there is... so don't let it go). I have seen too many from the generation ahead of me live too long - no quality of life, living in pain, suffering from dementia and not recognizing any of their loved ones. I strongly support letting one decide when their life is no longer worth living.

  1. Rev. Robin Marie Chernault DDD's Avatar Rev. Robin Marie Chernault DDD

    As a terminally ill person,YES YES YES I have the right as a human being to die with dignity. We treat our pets who suffer better

  1. Susan V.'s Avatar Susan V.

    Everyone needs to watch "You Dont Know Jack" movie documentary about Jack Kevorkian. I understood more about this issue rhan ever. I have been a medical provider for 30 plus years and support this 200%. When you see the suffering patients and loved ones go through, there is a point where it has to stop. The AMA, in my opinion, doesnt support it because they most likely get reimbursement from insurance companies for the care and procedures they provide. Very passionate about this issue for many years.

  1. Pamela j manyfield's Avatar Pamela j manyfield

    Death is inevitable. Only God knows our appointed time. When someone is terminally ill and suffering there are methods in place to keep them comfortable. No matter what man does I’d it is not their appointed time they won’t go, God already knows when and how each one of us will depart this clay vessel that houses our soul.

  1. Bryan Taylor's Avatar Bryan Taylor

    If one is terminally ill, racked with pain (and anguish for the friends & family who are suffering with them), then yes, the right of choice to prematurely end one's life should not be questioned.

  1. Bruce Ryan's Avatar Bruce Ryan

    absolutely !!

  1. Gary's Avatar Gary

    I have watched my mom and step dad pass in my home. My step dad refused further dialysis as his quality of life was gone. He should have that right. My mom slowly lost her mind to Alzheimer's . I wish she could have been allowed to pass before becoming almost totally brain dead. Unless you have witnessed this personally, you really don't know what you are talking about. Too often, "Death Panels" are used as an excuse to force one's religious beliefs on others. Your health care in America is already rationed out with pre-approvals needed. Costly care is already limited with Caps on health insurance. One should be allowed not to suffer needlessly at the end. Most of these states have multiple layers of safeguards as New Jersey's does.

  1. bonnie's Avatar bonnie

    Did man come up with the method of euthanasia without God's guidance? Isn't it possible that our ability to create the methods for a peaceful death is actually God's mandate?

  1. Albert A Hernandez's Avatar Albert A Hernandez

    Read my book, "THE AUDACITY OF TRUTH," Chapter 21 on Euthanasia. Also read Chapter 12, The Theology of the Antichrist.

    Albert A. Hernandez, D. Div.

  1. Shirley J. Davis's Avatar Shirley J. Davis

    I can see no value in criminalizing suicide. If someone tries to die by suicide, instead of arresting them, shouldn't we be trying to help with whatever drives them to this drastic decision. As for assisted suicide of the dying, I can see nothing wrong with it. Granted, physicians take an oath to do no harm, but these people are or soon will be suffering pain like no one who has never had it will ever understand or know. It's time to grow up.

    1. Albert A Hernandez's Avatar Albert A Hernandez

      Very good Ms. Davis. My book actually covers what you just said. I really urge people to read it. You don't have to go through the agony of seeing a loved one suffer.

    2. Rev Judith's Avatar Rev Judith

      Is not prolonging the suffering of a dying person causing harm & thereby violating the Hippocratic Oath? To allow unnecessary suffering is to cause harm to the patient and their loved ones.

  1. Gary's Avatar Gary

    My wife is a Psychic Medium and she has contacted hundreds of deceased relatives of clients who were able to verify their existance through meaningful memories such as "a dog named Delilah." When asked about reincarnation, my mother said they watch movies about possible existances they could enter. Reincarnation is the only logical answer to our life on earth. Sort of the same notion with worshiping God. What need does God have of worship? He want to be remembered and to see his children make good decisions.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      ???? You are too funny!!!

      Can she get a message to my Koi fish that were eaten by a very hungry raccoon. We send our apologies that we didn’t cover the pond very well, but let them know the raccoon went away very happy.

      ?❤️

      1. Jack Gerber's Avatar Jack Gerber

        I am curious Lionheart, are you a materialist? If so, why are you here in a religious forum?

        1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

          I don’t see this as a religious forum, I see it as a non secular, and a secular, forum.

          Thank you for your question.

          ?❤️

          1. Jack Gerber's Avatar Jack Gerber

            I agree with you about the nature of this forum but are you a materialist? I was one for many years but I was also an agnostic. I was deeply dedicated to science and simply took the approach that I wanted to see the evidence for something spiritual actually existing (confident that it wasn't possible). Then I started to learn enough about the irrefutable evidence (including but not limited to the kind has been offered by Gary Zoldowski here) and being of a scientific bent, was forced to change my mind.

          2. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

            Thank you Jack for your inquiry. I was a Christian for many years but as my life has progressed, my awareness has opened. Religionists will of course say that my awareness closed down, but that is purely a point of view.

            I started to question what I had been taught, and learned not to take everything for granted. Education, mixed with an enquiring mind, helped me see through my indoctrination and became a recovering religionist.

            I now see myself as a free thinker, and a realist. I am just as much open to the possibility that a deity, or deities, exist, just as much as I am open to the existence of extra terrestrials, and other things that we have no certainties of. Free thinkers always keep an open mind, which unfortunately cannot be said for most religionists.

            Peace ✌?

            ?❤️

          3. Jack Gerber's Avatar Jack Gerber

            Thank you for explaining this. It helps me a lot with understanding where you are coming from. I can see that your awareness has opened now, having moved away from the narrow-minded approach of many who are taught to unthinkingly accept what their authorities tell them. Belief in some sort of deity is, in fact, a belief that cannot be supported scientifically. The idea that consciousness is not a product of the brain, whether you want to call it a soul or something completely different, is not in the same class at all. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that supports this idea. Hence the theory that consciousness does continue after physical death of the body has enormous backing,

      2. Gary's Avatar Gary

        Apparently you area non believer.A true explorer in this life would not poke fun simply because they do not understand or believe. I would be interested in discussing this with you if you had an open mind, but by the comment you are a typical Indoctrinated Christian. Sorry for your misfortune.

        1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

          Nope! Not a Christian. Not a member of any deistic religion. Just a human being with a good sense of humor enjoying life.

          Peace ✌?

          ?❤️

  1. Clara's Avatar Clara

    Don't fool yourself into believing euthanasia by medical professional are performed within legal statutes. I personally know people whose only terminal illness was old age and greedy child. One even had legal drafted living will to prevent the withholding of food and water yet that was to no avail. The Ombudsman appointed to his case falsified documentation to help the facility dot their i's and cross their t's. I've known of people whose organs were harvested as donors who may have survived if left on life support for the required time. State laws were not even in place to justify either death yet none were ever held responsible. Now they can kill indiscriminately and none will ever be held responsible as far as the law goes; but as I stated previously is has already beening occuring for many years.

    1. Jack Gerber's Avatar Jack Gerber

      I didn't know about this and I am appalled. Thank you for posting about this.

    2. Brother Sir Guy's Avatar Brother Sir Guy

      You may have seen this occur, and if this is true, that is indeed an abomination. In the case of the New Jersey law, however, the patient themselves must make this decision, two doctors have to confirm imminent death and the patient must affirm that this is their wish . It is out of the hands of family. It is a personal decision.

  1. Laurie Cleveland's Avatar Laurie Cleveland

    People who are terminally ill should have the right to decide if they want to suffer or not. In Hospice, the treatment team often prescribes liquid Morphine, Ativan and other medications to help keep the patient comfortable. While you don't see it as much in the home as you did in the past, morphine was and still is often given IV. I have been a home health RN for many years and have seen the best and the worst of people. Death does not have to be fearful. I have a "death visualization" that takes the fear out of dying and the dying getting all of their questions answered. Everybody, whether they believe in it or not, has a spirit guide that could be anything or anybody, depending upon their beliefs. I have seen miracles where prayer and laying on of hands has literally brought people days away from death from cancer being cured, only to die months later by something else, but they got extra time with their families and were able to get their affairs in order. The Right-To-Lifers will keep a person on life support even if the person is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope whatsoever of coming back. In other words, Elvis has left the building. It is not my place to tell somebody what they should or should not do. It is my responsibility to make sure that they have the correct knowledge so that they can make the best decision for them. I was there when my dad sustained a catastrophic stroke which affected both sides of his brain and told my mother not to sign the DNR form until I saw the scan. When I saw it, I said, "comfort measures only and make sure that he is on a cooling mattress so that he doesn't fry when the pressure built up on the hypothalmus." He was the victim of his own fear of doctors and medicine. He wouldn't take any antihypertensives because he had a reaction to Norvasc or Amlopine besylate. I was the health care proxy for my eldest brother, Earle, Jr. when he sort of went off the deep end because he never married and was terrified of being alone and ended up in a nursing home when my 90 something year old mum couldn't take care of him and she had a couple of bad moments with him. He was the victim of an experiment of sorts where the whole nursing home got the H5N1 flu which wipes out your immune system and then you get an incurable bacterial infection. The poor guy was on 30 L/,min of oxygen and there was little chance that he would come out of it with any quality of life. He wanted the plugs pulled and that is what we did. He had been in pain that was referred from his spine for a few years and once the Morphinie dosage got to a certain point, he breathed a sigh of relief and died shortly thereafter. Last year, my mother, who was 98 years old, and very much a member of The Greatest Generation. She was the matriarch and was very clear that she could not walk with a walker and insisted on going to the supermarket on a daily basis. Well, first time she fell, she broke her left ankle and for the first time in her life, she asked me to come and examine her and then perform a healing on her. She had broken it and when I was performing the healing, she had this "wow!" look on her face and said, "I feel something." The something was NO PAIN. She was not a candidate for anything because her right knee felt like it was loosely held together with baling wire and string. My brother, Mark, got PO'd at me because he didn't believe in "that nonsense." and didn't he have a revelation when he took her to the doctor the next day. They couldn't do anything for her and I already knew that. At least she had no pain in that ankle and could walk. Then, she fell backwards and hit her head on the asphalt. Now, When an elderly person hits their heads, the subarachnoid space (the space between the brain and skull) is wider because the brain shrinks a bit with age. While she seemed fine at first, she wasn't and we, as a precaution, sent her to the hospital ER. She had bleeding on both sides and into one of the ventricles in her brain. She was ready to take the train until my eldest grandson, Jimmy Earle, came in and put his little hand in hers and said, "Mimi, it's me, James." She held onto him for dear life. It was at that point she turned the corner. That nighit, I worked on her from my bedroom doing absent healing and the pain that I was in was indescrible. The next morning, I get a call from my brother who says, "It's a miracle!" "What's a miracle?" Mum is up and talking and back to her old self. The bleeding has stopped and the blood came out of the ventricle. I then told him what I had done and then had to apologize to my mother who was afraid that I would save her, which I did. She said, "No, Laurie. You did the right thing. You gave me a little more time with my family." After a couple of days in rehab when it was clear that she wouldn't walk again, we took her home to die and I was her 24/7 RN, along with Hospice and private duty so that I could do karaoke once a week on Thursday nights and have every other weekend off. We got a lot of misconceptions squared away and I had the best 4th of July I had had in a long time because after 64 years, we were finally a family and she finally knew and understood who I was. I think that was the greatest gift of all. I have given you 3 different scenarios. People's deaths are a personal thing. It's their journey, not yours and certainly not mine, although I played a part in each one. When a person is young and is having all sorts of problems, being picked on by everybody and they want to die, and then do it. Every single one of them has said the same thing. I made a permanent solution for a temporary problem. In the case of somebody who is wracked with pain and is dying, I see no reason ethically or any other way, why they shouldn't end things sooner if it will help them, which ending their pain and suffering certainly would. You have no idea of the pain that a person can have and two people can have the same problem and react to it differently. It's up to us, as I said, to support their decision and give them the needed education so that they can make a good decision. None of us are God/Goddess and we shouldn't pretend that we should be. Should we stop the younger person from doing this if we can? Yes. However, if somebody is sick, the baby is grossly malformed or whatever, then the answer may very well be no.

  1. Sandy's Avatar Sandy

    If I was terminally ill, or suffering from Alzheimer’s, or having no quality-of-life, I wouldn’t want to drag on my life, in severe pain or waste away— i’ve worked in many nursing homes back in the day, and seeing people that are in pain or totally unresponsive, having machines keep them alive, is no way to live— I would choose the end of life process

  1. Brother Sir Guy's Avatar Brother Sir Guy

    I have a unique perspective on this matter, having been an emergency medical technician for two decades, and having responded to the terror attacks at the World Trade Center and suffering from a rare cancer as a result. I have worked on people, performing CPR on many folks trying to beat away the demon of death, sometimes successfully, others unsuccessfully. I have also had to transport yhe chronically ill and the terminally ill.

    When you see a person languishing on life support, or suffering through an inordinate amount of pain because of terminal illness, it is hard to justify continuing to allow that suffering when you really care for people. I have seen people being kept alive on machines, curled up in a ball, unable to speak and barely responsive, simply because family members didn't want to be the ones to say, "Enough suffering!" I have watched some suffer in nursing homes because the families can no longer bear to watch them as the wither away and die a slow death.

    As I witness my own increasing difficulties and face the prospects ahead, I know that I wouldn't want to be lying around in a vegetative state, nor would I want to face daily suffering as my quality of life rapidly decreased. I believe that some of the people who reject dying with dignity do so because they are deeply religious. I also believe that many do so because they have no first hand knowledge of the dying process. I know as an EMT that if the human brain has been without oxygen for more than ten minutes, irreparable damage will have occurred and though I will fight for every patient I have to live, I know in my own case that I would rather be allowed to slip away, than to live for years or months trapped in my own deteriorating body.

    If a person is cognizant, and feels that is the choice they want to make, if it is a measured one, I believe we should allow them that choice. I think it is the humane thing to do.

  1. Secretary3rd's Avatar Secretary3rd

    EMT what happens if you could take away that pain miniutes before death occurs, would you not help that person. For people who never suffer pain I can tell you it is this side of Hell to drop to your knees with at hat sharpe pain, but that did past. When it comes to those who cried out in a pain that can not medication about that is a whole different story. Try a battlefield when those who look to you for comfort because their body is in pieces and you either let them scream for minutes or with my touch they died in comfort. Many people can not die peacefully because they are in pain. Take away that pain and the body lapse into sleep. Then all body functions shut off. That sweep of being relax appears on the face. He or she flatline.

  1. Reb TK's Avatar Reb TK

    This issue always saddens me, because the dignity of the individual and family to choose in the face of difficult times should be the paramount concern and that should be supported. What is the difference in choosing hospice care versus planning one's demise? Frivolous debates matter very little to the very old or the very ill or their families and caregivers. I work in the field of mental health, in a school based setting, where we are very aware of the need to identify suicidality among our students. Suicidal ideation, gestures and attempts among the very young and associated contagions are very real. Ours is a neighborhood with excessive gun and other violence, and our kids and their families deal with too much in their day to day. This requires intervention of a different kind..

    But when a person is very old, or very ill, and has lived life to the extent they are able or desire, and can make a choice to control the process of their passing, I need to respect and honor that, and would help that person and their family celebrate that passing as a part of their life. There is nothing new about death. It is a part of life, and it is a good thing.

    The association between the right to die and to dictate he terms of one's own death under certain circumstances, versus suicidality in juveniles or the seriously mentally ill is erroneously lumped together.

    But then, there is the issue of what G-d thinks or has established. And from what I have studied, G-d has not established very much along these lines.

    I suspect that this is because G-d takes everyone back, regardless of their hardships. And when they are ready, sends them out again because they have lived, suffered, and in line with this discourse, taken charge of their own selves and lives, even to the point of death... and by that they have even more to offer the rest of us when they com among us again.

    Peace...Out...Reb Tk

  1. Father Fred's Avatar Father Fred

    Perhaps it’s age, along with watching several friends my age waste away in their final years; but I would support a method in which a person could take their own life when it gets to the point where death is enviable, and suffering three fold.

    There are several problems with this thought. The first is close family. When given the choice, family will always vote for life. But then you have to ask yourself, does their need to see you alive outweigh the suffering you may have at the hands of a vicious disease? Does love for someone take preference over one’s peace in their final moments?

    As a sidebar I find it interesting that a small amount of people would gladly take a pet to the vet early in the stages of suffering and care to have them put down, yet are loathe to even consider that a friend or family member would want to be put down due to the quality of life. Yes, I know we’re talking a pet and a human, but where is the compassion for a suffering life, or is it just easier to allow a pet a merciful end, and tell the human to “tough it up” because I’m uncomfortable? The latter seems rather selfish to ask someone to forego peace because it bothers us.

    And I’ve always been curious how some people want to prolong the process of dying, only to remove themselves from the dying person’s inner circle. A friend who knew his time was up, and had only weeks to live, was talked into not taking his life by his friends, who then never talked to him nor visited him in his last days. His final moments were spent alone, with only a pet by his side.

    Then there is the legal criterion for asking for compassionate death. Does one allow a depressed person the right, even if they are an early teen? Do we allow someone to take their life if they have had bad breaks, a failed marriage, or perceptions of bad lifestyle?

    I don’t think the law can be that wide, but defining the justification in a country like ours, (who can’t even agree on the term “illegal”), could be hard to hammer out. And by the time a court system could rule on a petitioner’s choice of death, that person could have well suffered months or years of painful and costly medical care. In the end, the medical community prospers on prolonging agony while the patient dies a horrible death. Still, in the litigating society we’re in, it would be hard to establish a legal criteria for one to orchestrate their death.

    I can only say I’ve witnessed eight friends, and two family members suffer. Of them; one family member, and seven of the eight friends wanted to check out early. They knew their quality of life, and they knew their level of pain. They also knew what they were in store for.

    In the case of my family member their final three weeks was torture due to massive pain and organs protesting their demise. He begged to be put down, or at the least be given copious amounts of pain killers to reduce the suffering. Sadly, the medical establishment said they could not “help” him as the amount of pain killer could “kill” him. So, he lay their screaming in pain for weeks until finally, exhausted, and unable to eat for 12 days, he passed. He screamed so much the medical community placed him in quarantine so they didn’t have to listen to him.

    There is always the God question in this situation. I’m always reminded people, and read tracks, about how taking one’s own life is evil, and sinful. But do we really believe that God would approve of one of his children left to suffer in a sterile room of white sheets, beeping monitors, and regulations which promote suffering the final moments? If you were left to die, painfully, would you embrace the hours and days of suffering?

    Personally, I don’t think God would be mad for a just reason. I think he would be a disappointed God if I just woke up one day and decided I was an old, wrinkled man, with no job and no friends … and I decided to take my own life. But I don’t think his wrath would come down on me if I was in the very end of life, unable to be cured, and unable to weather the storm. If I knew I would never recover, and face a hideous death, why not have a couple of drinks, read some passages alone or with a friend, and then slip into eternal sleep. After all, the body is what has failed us, and not our faith or our soul.

    Sometimes we forget that our ancestors died early, and our longevity is due, in part, by science and technologies. It’s easy to say that someone stricken with cancer, or some other incurable disease, is due a second chance via our discoveries in medical science. But when medical sciences can not prolong life, or the reasonable management of comfort in our final days, is it really compassionate and righteously just to say to the afflicted, “wait, suffer, and let us hope death comes soon.”

    Speaking for myself, I know I would not have a problem in taking my own life if I knew the fate I would face would be gruesome, and a burden on myself, friends, and family.

    I also think I would arrive in heaven and be met by an understanding God who would be happy of the things I've done, and understanding of checking out earlier than forecasted.

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