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Physician Assisted Suicide and The Election

Physician Assisted Suicide and The Election

Physician assisted suicide has continued to be a widely controversial, but popular topic across the country over the past decade. With the presidential election coming to a close very soon, the future of physician assisted suicide, or dying with dignity, may become a more widely spread practice, legal medical practice available to those terminally ill patients. Thus far, The Death with Dignity Act, or a similar version, has been passed in Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California and Montana.

California recently passed the California End of Life Option Act in June of 2016, after years of deliberation, voting and criticism, Governor Jerry Brown ultimately signed the bill into effect in the fall of 2015. Many families are relieved that this may become an option for a terminally ill loved one. What is different about death under this Act, is that it is no longer viewed as suicide, and will legally allow loved ones to retain what their terminally ill family member has designated for them after their passing.

Seeing the success and public acceptance of the Act, some other states will be voting on similar bills next week. In Colorado, the voters will decide whether the Colorado End of Life Options Act will allows similar practices to become legal. Like those states that have already passed the bill, in Colorado, the patient would have to be  18 years of age or older, diagnosed with a terminal illness that is projected to end their life within six months or less, and they must get two separate doctors to evaluate their case. However, what is different from some states and countries bills regarding end of life procedures, is that they do not have to undergo a mental health examination. While this may be controversial to some, the terminal nature of the disease is what the focus of the bill is about.

In 2015, 132 patients chose to exercise their right as a resident of Oregon to enlist the assistance of a physician in order to chose when they die. While the terminally ill community this measure allows them to make their final decisions while keeping their morals, dignity and humility intact, those critics worry about how the states’ varying positions will influence who decides to live in certain places. However, based on the tone towards physician assisted suicide across the nation over the past year, thanks to stories like those of Brittany Maynard, the attitude is shifting to become more understanding.

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