By Nicole Palmetto

Rebecca Van Wormer is a 42-year-old woman dying with brain cancer. The cancer has been slowly killing her for 4 years. She moved to Maine from New York to take care of her sickly father. “I don’t want the final memories my husband has of me to be a blind, deaf, mute, body of flesh who can’t even feed herself. I don’t know if I will end up like that, but with the cancer being in my brain, it is a possibility,” says Van Wormer.

564,800 Americans are expected to die of cancer a year. Only 5 states, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana, and New Mexico, allow the action of assisted suicide by Euthanasia. Should the government allow the suffering people to die with dignity?

With terminal illness becoming a huge problem, many people are dying a slow death with no say on how they want to leave the world. The rise of the conversation on the use of euthanasia started in the early 90’s. Dr. Jack Kevorkian started the world wide conversation in 1991. He was a pathologist, and a euthanasia activist. He helped 130 patients end their lives safely, but illegally, and served 8 years behind bars. He once famously said “Dying is not a crime.”

In Oregon alone, 1,327 prescriptions have been written, and 859 patients have used it and died. Euthanasia should be allowed legally to prescribe for the terminally ill. Just because a doctor prescribes it with the patient’s consent doesn’t mean it has to be used. It can help a person with terminal cancer know that there is a way to go peacefully. “The right of a competent, terminally ill person to avoid excruciating pain and embrace a timely and dignified death bears the sanction of history and is implicit in the concept of ordered liberty,” says ACLU Amicus Brief. Amicus Brief believes that, as citizens, we should be allowed to live and die how we want. By legalizing the use of Euthanasia, people have the ability to have a happy end, despite the pain they are currently going through.

Should the government have the power to force people to stay alive? 5-year-old Juliana Snow has an incurable neurodegenerative illness called Charcot Marie Tooth disease. If she has a cold, the illness can settle in her lungs and take her life. Michele Juliana’s mom asked Juliana; if she got sick again, would she like to go to the hospital or stay home? Juliana replies with,” Not the hospital…I hate NT (Nasotracheal Suction, where a tube is placed down her nose into her lungs without sedation). I hate the hospital.”

An incurable disease that affects 1 in 2,500 people takes away the ability to walk, swallow, and breathe freely. The euthanasia law of NY states, “Euthanasia, or ‘mercy killing’, is the act of taking someone’s life who no longer wishes to live.” A word that sticks out in the law is wish. It is the person’s choice that has the disease to wish to die. A person has the ability to sign a DNR ( Do Not Resuscitate). This means when they start to code (heart stops), the hospital is not allowed to restart the heart. If euthanasia is legalized, people can end their lives–much like signing a DNR–but without having to go through a painful death.

It is possible that if the government legalizes euthanasia, it can lead to involuntary euthanasia and killing people who are not considered desirable. Legalizing euthanasia can cause unnecessary deaths that can spark legal issues.

“Once you’ve transformed euthanasia into a medical treatment, there’s no logical way you can say that it should not be available to children. People who support euthanasia should do it with their eyes wide open. It will eventually be available to everyone.”-Rita Marker.

As people, we shouldn’t worry about doctors giving euthanasia to someone who doesn’t qualify. Vets have access to euthanasia to put down animals, but they know the responsibility of the job before they became a vet, and how they have a power to kill; they should give their best judgement and be authorized. In 2011, Dr. Conrad Murray successfully killed Michael Jackson by over-prescribing medicine. Even without euthanasia, doctors still have the power to kill. 

There are good doctors and there are bad doctors. By refusing to legalize euthanasia, because the government is afraid that unnecessary killings will be committed, we are ignoring the suffering people who have months to live and don’t want to die in pain. The government should put the people’s opinions who are actually suffering from cancer first in this decision.

Rebecca Van Wormer, a 42-year-old woman dying of brain cancer, supports the use of euthanasia. “I know I’m dying. I accept that because there is no getting out of it. I’m hoping I have three years; but no one, including doctors, can predict anything. I want to have a say in the matter. I want the option to go on my own terms. That is why I am advocating for a death with dignity law in Maine. I will either die with the law in place, or fighting for it.” By legalizing the use of euthanasia, people with terminal cancer can have a say in how they want to leave. Legalizing euthanasia to 564,800 Americans expected to die of cancer each year is rational, to those suffering who want to have a choice to die with dignity. Dignity, a word meaning the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect. If you were suffering with terminal cancer, how would you want to die?  

Websites used:
Wormer, Rebecca Van. “Rebecca VanWormer: I Want to Have a Say – Death With Dignity.” Death With Dignity., 0 Aug. 2015. Web. 06 Mar. 2016

Senior Medical Correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen. “Heaven over Hospital: Dying Girl, Age 5, Makes a Choice.” CNN. Cable News Network, 27 Oct. 2015. Web. 06 Mar. 2016.

“Helping Families Face the Challenges of Cancer.” Cancer Facts. Ed. Thomara Latimer Foundation. Thomara Latimer Foundation, n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2016.

“Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide – Jack Kevorkian.” – Arrested, Michigan, Law, and People. Ed. Editor Not Stated., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2016.

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