THE OPINIONS IN THIS POST ARE MI E AND MINE ALONE, YOU DON’T AGREE? THAT’S YOUR RIGHT. ALL COMMENTS ARE WELCOME IF THEY ARE RESPECTFUL AND POLITE, NO MATTER WHICH SIDE YOU ARE ON. RUDE, BAITING, FLAMING AND OTHERWISE DISRESPECTFUL COMMENTS WILL BE REMOVED.
This month, two stories in the news stood out to me. They were about the same core subject but could not be more different. There was Brittany Maynard, the young newlywed from California who was told she had an inoperable brain cancer, so she moved herself, her husband and her parents to Oregon because OR has a so called “Death With Dignity” law. This law allows terminally ill people to choose when they will die and do so on their own terms by swallowing a lethal dose of medication from their doctors. Juxtapose that against Lauren Hill, a college freshman who was also given 6 months to live because of terminal brain cancer. Miss Hill is not choosing to end her life, rather, she is choosing to hold on and hope for a cure.
Mrs Maynard moved to Oregon so she could choose to end her life, choose to stop breathing, stop enjoying sunsets in the arms of her husband, stop her illness, just stop. Where medicine is now compared to two months ago is, in many fields, light years of advancement. 90% of people with illnesses like Mrs Maynard’s are taking sleeping pills at night. Why move instead of just saying “Ok, when my symptoms become too much for me I’m just going to take a bottle of Ambian and go to sleep?” Why go public? You could have just as easily killed yourself at home in California. You wanted a shot at your 15 minutes of fame everyone feels they are entitled to before shuffling off this mortal coil. I get it. Being the face for doctor assisted suicide does not make you brave. You are every bit as much of a coward as every other miserable soul who commits suicide. Now, though, your family must deal with the backlash of your decisions after you are gone.
Lets spend a moment talking about the doctor in doctor assisted suicide. This is something as old as the debate, as old as the Hypocratic Oath itself. Isn’t part of that oath to do no harm? How can a doctor prescribe a medication with the express purpose of it ending someone’s life? How is that ethical?
Now, lets look at Miss Hill for a bit. You want to talk bravery in the face of terminal cancer? Miss Hill is 19 years d, yet she has the courage of 15 Maynards. Knowing her time is limited, knowing she is getting weaker, knowing there is no cure for her cancer today, she is still living. She is attending classes and going to college. Her dream was to play NCAA basketball, so her school got permission to start the season early to make sure she got to play. She even scored the first points for her team this season! All while in a state much more progressed than Mrs Maynard was when she ended her life.
It amazes me that, in 2014, this debate is still raging. Morally and ethically, I don’t see how the death with dignity movement still has steam. It seems to be revitalized whenever a pretty girl wants to speak on behalf of the movement. It is still a coward’s way out. And to prove my point, one needs only to look at Miss Hill.