The limitations of the Death with Dignity Act enacted in Oregon continue to leave families in agonizing situations.
This law is restrictive for patients with degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and multiple sclerosis, etc., since it allows only terminally-ill patients who are in sound mind and have less than six months to live to qualify for the physician-assisted suicide procedure. Even though these degenerative diseases aren’t fatal, they still result in unbearable physical or mental pain and progress to the point of burdening others.
The lack of flexibility in this law has detrimental impacts on families. Due to the nature of degenerative diseases, families will have to face uncertainties on the level and duration of support they would need to provide for the patient. The extensive caregiving responsibilities will result in a devastating toll on families through financial insecurity, time constraint and other forms of mental loads.
While numerous patients with memory-deteriorating conditions already possess a strong desire for death, they are deemed as not mentally equipped to make decisions for themselves. The inability to choose a planned death can lead to patients feeling overwhelming void and guilt, thus choosing other forms of induced death such as starvation and dehydration.
To support the well-being of our families, expanding end-of-life options allows individuals to be relieved from the hardships and suffering from witnessing or experiencing the cruel nature of these illnesses; therefore, I believe the patients’ ability to make decisions for themselves should be respected.