For a better death

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Currently there is a Pennsylvania Senate bill similar to bills that have already been passed in several other states, including Oregon, Washington and New Jersey, giving terminal patients the right to choose their course of death. The bill is referred to as Death with Dignity and it makes physician-assisted deaths a legal issue.

Physicians can prescribe a dose of medication that will end the life of a terminal patient. There are specific guidelines to the law including but not limited to: the diagnosis must be confirmed by at least two physicians, the patient has to have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less and the patient has to ask for the prescription.

People have the right, and are actually empowered, to make decisions on how they live their lives, so why does that not include how they die when their quality of life is replaced with complete dependence, suffering and most notably pain? When we imagine death, if we allow ourselves to, the majority of people would describe their deaths as peaceful, painless, surrounded by the people whom we love and in a controlled environment; there is no dignity in dying any other way.

When families imagine saying goodbye to their loved ones, the image is the same, because again there is no dignity any other way.

The issue is not whether we believe that the terminal patient should or should not take a prescribed medication that will end his or her suffering; the issue is that people should have the right to choose for themselves if they want to or not. Pennsylvania needs to give some control back to the patient population who have lost all control.


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