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Brittany’s Anecdote

The 29 year old terminally old patient Brittany Maynard suffered from a stage 4 malignant brain tumor that plagued her daily life with frequent seizures and stroke-like symptoms. Her inevitable death was predicted soon with certainty with absolutely no possibility for a cure. She wrote, “I did this because I want to see a world where everyone has access to death with dignity, as I have had. My journey is easier because of this choice.” Freedom of choice is an important aspect when involving controversial ethical practices. I support the legalization of euthanasia in the few states available, for a patient’s decision to die in critical circumstances should not be judged by none other than the recipient.

Explain Law: History & Implementation

Euthanasia is a controversial subject as it is banned from all states except for Washington D.C., California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, Hawaii, Washington, and is currently still being debated in Montana according to U.S. Legal Wills. Euthanasia, also known as “mercy killing,” was first suggested on January 23, 1906 by the Ohio legislature. It was advocated by Anna Hall in hopes to relieve her mother from a terminal and painful illness. In the same year, Dr. R. H. Gregory introduced a similar bill to the Iowa state legislature as to bring awareness to the increasing demand. These two bills were only the beginning of a long process of passing a bill. Eventually in 1994, Oregon became the first state to legalize aid in dying. The law was immediately challenged in the case Lee v. State of Oregon. The Oregon “Death With Dignity” act was processed for three years battling the statement that “Measure 16, which legalizes physician-assisted suicide for certain terminally ill persons, violates the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution” (Devlin). Barbara Coombs Lee was the main advocate for the procedure as she had witnessed first hand the suffering of numerous patients in her healthcare profession. Her unforgettable 25-year career experience influenced her pursuit to devote her professional life to individual choice and empowerment in health care. She served as a spokesperson through all campaigns defending against the judicial and legislative arenas. “One of the keys to winning was to make it perfectly clear that the control would reside with the patient from beginning to end” (Lee). In February of 1997, the case was dismissed by lower court’s ruling against Oregon Death with Dignity Act.

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What is it supposed to do?

The Oregon Death with Dignity Act allows for terminally ill Oregonians who meet specific qualifications to end their lives by voluntary self administration of prescribed lethal doses of medication. The requirements outline that a patient must be at least 18 years of age or older, a resident of Oregon, capable of making and communicating health care decisions, and diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to death within six months according to (Jstor History of Euthanasia Movement Publication).(change) If a patient is unable to self-administer the life-ending medication, then he or she is ineligible. This is common with people suffering from neuromuscular diseases such as ALS and Parkinson’s. The decision is determined by the attending and consulting physicians.


In support of the Euthanasia movement, it is most important to recognize the characteristics of the procedure that make it more worthwhile versus detrimental. The ability to determine the suffering of patients is none other the judgement of the patient themselves. We are in no jurisdiction to say that one is not suffering enough to consider death as a viable option. It is not our place to force the suffering into living when no possible progress can be made when death is inevitable within six months.

Why support?

People have the explicit right to die & it is a private matter

People have the right to die. That is even evident in the legalization of suicide. With the qualified intentions, humans are independent biological beings that have the right to control his or her body and life. Resurfacing the Brittany Maynard’s situation, the 29 year old documented her journey dying in the arms of her loved ones as she intended. She made her decision of a doctor- assisted death when diagnosed New Years Day. She had limited treatment options that would save her life, and she even considered hospice care. Maynard graduated with a bachelor’s degree from University of California Berkeley and a master’s degree from University of California Irvine. She was newly married to her husband in 2012 and her friends and family had always described her as an adventurous traveler until her condition worsened and tumor took over control.“I am so lucky to have known the love of an amazing husband (my husband Dan is a hero), a loving, caring mother, and an incredible group of friends and extended family,” Maynard wrote last month. “I hope you will all take up my request to carry on this work, and support them as they carry on my legacy. I’m so grateful to you all.” this heart wrenching story of a successful, beautiful, young woman appeals to the Oregon Death with Dignity act as it serves as an example that illnesses simply cannot be controlled and the only solution to relieve stress of the patient and family is ultimately death. That decision is none other her right as a suffering individual plagued with an unfortunate outcome.

Medical resources become more readily available

Euthanasia benefits the fair distribution of health resources. The high demand of health resources results in a crisis that affects those who are ill not able to get speedy access to facilities they need for treatment. Allowing people to commit euthanasia would not only let them have what they want, but also free valuable resources to treat people who want to live.

Arguments against/ Issue?


The main objection to the procedure of euthanasia conforms to the idea that it is against the will of God. Even though that God has given us free will to choose, the argument against this is that it would be wrong for to do so. Euthanasia imposes God’s rights over our lives and His right to choose the length of our lives and the way our lives end. The value of suffering is also debated, as religious people view positive value in suffering. Pope John Paul II wrote that ‘It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls.’ Even though most churches acknowledge that some Christians will want to accept suffering for this reason, most Christians are not so heroic. In fact, Christian’s believe that there is nothing wrong in trying to relieve someone’s suffering as long as one does not intentionally cause death. Under the Ten Commandments, it states that “Thou shall not kill,” but who is to verify the validity of content itself as religion and God is a questionable matter.

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Gives too much power to doctors

Another argument against the use of euthanasia is that it gives too much power to doctors and may discourage them from finding cures. This is a common outlook as as “doctors should not allowed to play God.” However, God arguments are of no interest to people without faith, it’s presented here with the God bit removed. Another perspective suggest that doctors should not be allowed to decide when people die. In reality, doctors do this all the time when extending medical action that increases life changes. Even though this is a different sort of decision, since it involves shortening life, doctors make choices about treatment all the time that affects life spans of patients. Doctors that are qualified to administer euthanasia are within properly regulated reason with safeguards, so they recognize the seriousness of the decision. In the majority of cases, the decision will ultimately be made by the patient. This further strengthens the positive benefits of euthanasia suggesting that the procedure is regulated and not imposed upon patients without dire need of it.


Euthanasia has had a negative connotation for many years and has been discouraged by the majority of states. However, the procedure has brought awareness to the critically suffering patients that are no longer able to fight for themselves. Brittany Maynard, for example, advocated Oregon’s Death with Dignity act publicly in order to diminish its controversiality. Ultimately, the law has benefited the well-being of the patients who have endured suffering without any hope. The inevitability of death within a six month range can no longer be procrastinated with the Death with Dignity act available.  

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