10-Nov-14 9:45 AM  CST

Assisted Death: What is the Medical Communities Responsibility?

No matter what side of the fence you reside on the question of assisted death in the United States has once again come to the forefront. Brittany Maynard, a 29 year old Oregon woman recently made headline deciding to die on her own terms by use of physician prescribed medications. Brittany, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, moved to Oregon in order to be able to end her life on her own terms, because her home state of California does not allow death and dignity.

            “Death and Dignity” seems to be the repeat phrase in this controversial story. There are only five states that allow death and dignity, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Vermont, and Montana. Several other states have proposed Bills to allow death and dignity within their states, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Kansas, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. In a Country where church and state seem to spare regularly, death and dignity is the latest venue.

Dr. Jack Kevorkian who made headlines for just this same issue, was put on trial, convicted of second degree murder and spend 8 years in prison for assisting patients in their own deaths. As a physician, public opinion felt Dr. Kevorkian was under a moral and professional obligation to care for patients, and make them comfortable during end life situations, not fully assist them in their own deaths, no matter how certain they might be.

            People across the nation are radically split on this issue, and those within the healthcare profession are no different. Whether or not you are in favor of death and dignity is strictly a personal position that only becomes complicated by the moral and ethical duties held to the medical profession. Surely this will not be the end of the debate, and Brittany Maynard will only be the first in a long and intense discussion among medical professional.





“Death with Dignity Across the US”, Death with Dignity National Center, 10-29-14, http://www.deathwithdignity.org/advocates/national, referenced 7.November 2014

Schneider, K. “Dr. Jack Kevorkian Dies at 83: A Doctor Who Helped End Lives “New York Times, 06-03-11, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/04/us/04kevorkian.html?pagewanted=all, referenced, 7.November 2014

Sholchet, C. “Brittany Maynard, Advocate for Death and Dignity Dies” CNN, 11-3-14, http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/02/health/oregon-brittany-maynard/index.html?hpt=he_c2, referenced 7.November 2014

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Source: Sandy Andrews  

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