Editorial: Incurable deserve right to die

Rocio M 5

Illustration by Rocio Macias

When it comes to the light at the end of the tunnel, for some, peace and dignity is a hard pill to swallow.

Some patients with severe medical complications don’t want to prolong the inevitable.

Even their families want what is best for them.

We, the Viewpoints Editorial Board, believe the people should have the right to die with dignity.

A dignifying and peaceful death is their hope.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia proposed a movement to overturn California’s End of Life Option Act on May 15, which allowed terminally ill citizens the right to end their life with the lethal drug Seconal.

Ottolia claims the law was unconstitutionally passed in a special session on health care funding.

He held the ruling for five days in order to give Attorney General Xavier Becerra opportunity to appeal.

Becerra would later seek an expedited appeal.

The drug of choice, Seconal, is typically used as an anaesthetic or sedative.

It calms the brain for a painless passing.

Alexandra Snyder, an attorney and executive director of Life Legal Defense Foundation, said in a press release that lawmakers effectively “hijacked” a special legislative session.

The session was called to address access to medical care and used it to pass their bill.

“It was a violation of the Constitution to basically slip in this suicide bill,” Snyder said. Snyder expressed that the bill set a dangerous precedent that undermines the legislative process.

“Access to health care has no relationship to assisted suicide.”

If the emergency appeal is denied the law will be quickly struck down.

Those opposing the advocation of the End of Life Option law are various health care organizations and Roman Catholic leaders.

These leaders started to oppose the initiative in 1992 to legalize aidin-dying, stalling related bills in the state Legislature.

Opponents argue that these laws could lead to coercion and abuse of vulnerable patients.

“The objection that simply having the lethal dose of medicine results in its misuse fails to account for any other medications patients around the country have … all of which could be misused and in some cases are misused,” the Death with Dignity National Center stated in a press release.

The act should not be removed in order to preserve the quality of life and to end suffering of the ill in a peaceful way.

The solution for most people in this situation is to end their life in a violent way. This act would prevent heartache of families whose terminal loved ones who chose suicide over pain.

Yet some physicians oppose this act on a philosophical level of enabling approval to die this way. What they are forgetting is that it is not any easier for the patient to try and deal with the pain.

Protocols set forth to undergo the process fully validates the patients’ decision.

In order to receive Seconal, there is a thorough background check to verify that the patient does in fact have an incurable and irreversible disease.

This disease must also lead to death within six months or less.

If a terminally-ill patient meets the requirements to receive the aidin-dying drug, the patient and his or her attending physician must follow several steps to proceed, according to Coalition for Compassionate Care of California.

These steps are very carefully defined in the law.

In the first six months California’s law was in effect, more than 100 people made use of it to end their lives.

According to state data, 59 percent of them had cancer.

Oregon has had a similar law for over 20 years.

As California is only the fifth state to pass this law, a significant majority of its residents support passing this law.

Of the remaining 44 states opposing this act, most list this as manslaughter.

Yet additional regulations are put in place to prevent the persecution of doctors assisting in the process.

The opposition stresses that it may ruin the reputation of doctors as healers, consequently tampering with the physician and patient relationship.

“Denver physician Alan Rastrelli said he advocates helping dying patients to use pain relievers and receive spiritual and psychological support to ease suffering,” according to a report published by NPR.

Thus, these treatments prolongs inevitable suffering.

This is not about blaming the doctors for what they assist with.

It is about having empathy toward the patients’ suffering until death.

Ultimately it is up to the patient to go through with the process.

Very strict protocols are put in to place to ensure that the decision is completely made by the patient.

The patient must become fully aware in order to meet the requirements.

The need for end of life care has desperately been needed. No one wants to see their loved one suffer at the hands of a disease.

If it is obvious that they are in pain, but have the capacity to make the decision on their own then their decision to die peacefully should be respected.

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