Hawaii is joining six other US states and Washington DC that have already made assisted suicide legal. Oregon, Vermont, Washington, California, Colorado, and the District of Columbia all give the decision to the individual person, while Montana brings the decision to the courts.
The highly controversial idea of assisted suicide is contested around the world. In the Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, Luxembourg, Canada, and India, human euthanasia is legal, while assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, Germany, and Japan, along with the few places in the United States.
Assisted suicide and human euthanasia are different, according to the World Federation of Right To Die Societies:
Physician-assisted suicide refers to the physician providing the means for death, most often with a prescription. The patient, not the physician, will ultimately administer the lethal medication. Euthanasia generally means that the physician would act directly, for instance by giving a lethal injection…
In the United States, a person sometimes has to have a terminal diagnosis of only six months to live in order to get the prescription for assisted suicide.
Such was the case for a elderly couple who chose to pass away at the same time after both only having six months to live. There is a 45 minute documentary about them entitled Living and Dying: A Love Story.
On Debate.org, 74% of people said that assisted suicide should be legalized. The comments from the 26% were often citing religion reasons, like, “Stopping the human heart is God’s business and this is a common belief of nearly all religions.”
Reasons from the 74% were that people will commit suicide if they want to, whether assisted suicide is legal or not, but often said that it should be reserved for the ill and dying as a comfortable way to pass away.
If that’s not official enough for you, the a Gallup survey taken in 2015 says 68% of Americans say doctors should be legally allowed to assist terminally ill patients in committing suicide.
Even where it is legal, it isn’t being used as much as you might think, says The Gospel Coalition.
Even in states where it is legal, there is not much demand for PAS (Physician Assisted Suicide). In 2015, 132 people died by PAS. Similarly, in Washington in 2015 there were 166 deaths due to PAS. Only 24 PAS-related deaths were recorded by Vermont from 2013 to 2016. (If PAS was legal in all 50 states and accounted for 0.25 percent of deaths in 2014 (2,596,993), there would have been 6,492 physician assisted suicides.)
The fact is, assisted suicide is not an easy way out for people who have not given enough thought to ending their lives or continuing it, it’s a way for sick people to end their pain when and where they choose to end it.
When it comes to the argument that doctors swear to do everything they can to heal or save someone, there comes a time when the patient is in control, even when signing a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate). After a certain amount of pain and suffering, a person decides how much more they want to endure.
Doctors often give opiate prescriptions, morphine, anesthesia, and even terminal sedation to patients nearing death to ease the pain. These do not stop a person’s heart, but rather take away all feeling and sometimes consciousness until it does stop. Assisted suicide stops everything.
It’s not a go-to fix for everything, but rather a last ditch effort at ending years of pain and discomfort that have absolutely no way of being cured. Being able to say your goodbyes and make peace with the human world before leaving it.