Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Death with dignity?
By Emilie Mullin
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. -- A ferry ride and a few minutes of driving is where the rules change. In recent years, 2013, Vermont’s governor, Peter Shumlin, signed the Death with Dignity act.
This act allows for terminally ill patients who have less than six months to live obtain drugs that take their lives, known as physicians assisted suicide.
There are only 4 states that have this law, Oregon, Washington, Vermont and most recent California.
Montana doesn't currently have a law saying they can use physician-assisted death. But in 2009 Montana Supreme Court ruled that nothing in state law denies physicians from honoring a terminally ill, mentally sound patient's request to have their life ended prematurely. There have been many bills attempting to ban the practice but none have been found sound enough to be put into law.
State Representative Linda Rosenthal introduced the bill to the Assembly, which was then referred to the health committee. State Senators Diane Savino and Senator Brad Hoylman introduced the “New York End of Life Options Act / Patient Self-Determination at the End of Life Act” and Senator John Bonacic is one of the first republicans in the senate to show his backing of the bill.
There is a lot of support for this bill in organizations such as the Death with Dignity National Center. It’s a website that allows others to see where the bill is in each state.
There is several groups that are not as supportive of the bill. Religious groups are a large portion of the anti-physicians assisted suicide. It goes against their teachings of sanctity of life from conception to natural death, stated by Mary Skillan.
Skillan is the Director of Campus Ministry at the Blessed John XXIII Newman Center.
Skillan had close family member who had cancer. When the cancer got so bad that there was nothing else the doctors could do, she received pain medications. Skillan along with the rest of her family was able to spend the rest of her life, with her, and journey with her through the last stages of her life. “She was still able to die with dignity. They made sure she was comfortable,” stated by Skillan.
Modern medicine makes it so that people are not as uncomfortable on their last portion of their lives. People may opt to end their life prematurely because they don’t want their families to have to deal with them being sick. But they are taking away the option of being there for them, according to Skillan.
Although it is not clear when New York will be voting on the bill, one thing is, the death with dignity act is growing momentum and support while also having its opposers.