Last December, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser officially signed into law the Death and Dignity Act of 2016, which essentially allows doctors and physicians to give terminally ill patients above the age of 18 life-ending medication. Now, roughly seven months later, that law is finally being implemented.
Of course, there are some regulations. In order for a person to legally commit suicide in Washington D.C., that individual must be working closely with licensed doctors and pharmacies that are morally okay with the idea of giving one of their patients life-ending medication.
In addition to this, patients are required to speak with their doctor and ask for permission to end their life two times, with fifteen days between each request. Before the second request, the patient must fill out an official city form confirming that they do in fact wish to commit suicide.
The program, which will be overseen by the Department of Health in Washington D.C., will also not allow a person to take his or her life in public for obvious reasons. To do so would not only be unnecessary, but also very disturbing for those who would be forced to witness it.
The debate over assisted suicide has been going on for many years now, and needless to say, there are some significant ethical problems with it. Just because something is legal does not necessarily mean it is moral – abortion is legal in all fifty states but it is quite possibly one of the most immoral practices our society takes part in. And if there’s one thing that our Founding Fathers made clear during the time of America’s birth, it’s that our society simply cannot go on unless the people and those who govern them are moral in nature.
Human beings should not play God. They shouldn’t be the ones that determine how and when someone dies, nor should they support laws that legalize that kind of a process. It is impossible to know with one hundred percent certainty what someone’s fate will be, even if they are terminally ill and expected to die. That being said, what gives someone the right to prematurely take the life of another human being, regardless of whether or not they are asking for it?
In the year 1994, Jeannette Hall of King City, Oregon, voted to legalize physician-assisted suicide in the United States. “I thought, hey, I wouldn’t want anyone to suffer,” Hall said in an interview back in 2015 with The Daily Signal. “So I checked it. Then it became legal.”
Jeanette would never have thought that just six years after voting to legalize assisted suicide, she would be diagnosed with inoperable colon cancer. After hearing the bad news, Hall said that the doctors asked her to choose between chemotherapy and ending her life with a lethal dose of barbiturates, a drug that is most commonly used as a central nervous system depressant.
“I wasn’t going to do it,” Hall said of the chemotherapy. “I looked for the easy way out.” However, Dr. Kenneth Stevens, one of Hall’s two cancer doctors, was determined to convince her to choose life over death. He believed that Jeanette, who was only in her mid 50s at the time, had so much more to live for.
Stevens eventually found out that Jeanette had a son who at the time was going through training to become a state trooper. “Wouldn’t you like to see him graduate? Wouldn’t you like to see him get married?” Stevens asked Hall in one last attempt to save her life.
Hall later explained to The Daily Signal how the thought of never being able to see her son grow up and live a happy life ultimately deterred her from going through with the assisted suicide. Hall instead chose to fight the cancer with chemotherapy and went on to live for another 15 years.
Assisted suicide is not something that our society should be embracing. Instead, we should be encouraging people to live their lives to the fullest and to never give up hope, because as long as there is hope, anything is possible – even beating the odds against a terminal illness.