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Sunday, May 19
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

Death with dignity

In this day and age, Americans spend a great deal of ink, time and television airspace arguing about life’s initiation. Debates on how best to protect an individual’s right to begin life or usher life into the world figure in many medical, ethical and political conversations.

However, hardly any time is ever spent discussing or defending the rights of those on the other end of life. The elderly and terminally ill have very little agency to decide where, when and how they pass away, and right now a lawsuit in California is unfolding to determine just where the boundaries between private personhood and national mandate lie.

Christie White, a San Francisco resident who has been battling either leukemia or lymphoma since 2007, is suing the state of California “to help (her) achieve a peaceful and dignified death at the place and time of (her) choosing,” according to CNN.

Although White is in remission, the suffering and death she has witnessed in her friends’ lives who are facing the same challenges has prompted her to establish the right to aid when dying. Joining the lawsuit is a small group of physicians, also named as plaintiffs, who seek the right to administer aid in death to patients with ?incurable conditions.

I find it endlessly frustrating that in a relatively modern, developed nation, we still continually refuse to grant citizens the right to make individual decisions for themselves based on what they believe to be best ?for them.

Christie White and the doctors who have taken up arms in the fight for some agency when it comes to individuals’ healthcare absolutely deserve the option of utilizing the resources around them to end lives and help patients transition to whatever may lie on the other side however they so choose — specifically, peacefully and with reduced suffering.

Life is precious — of that I do not need to be reminded — and it is exactly because of life’s beauty and preciousness that those who are terminally ill or in incessant pain deserve to have the quality of the end of their lives vastly improved by the medical advancements ?society has made.

To have such resources available but be barred from utilizing them due to a set of strict moral standards to which such individuals don’t even subscribe is, frankly, ?ridiculous.

According to the Assisted Suicide Statute in Section 401 of the California Penal Code, “every person who deliberately aids, or advises, or encourages another to commit suicide is guilty of a felony.”

Clearly this statute was originally adopted to protect citizens rather than limit them, but it is now horribly outdated; the statute was adopted by the California Legislature in 1874, a time in which they could not have imagined the possibility of medicine enabling people to pass away peacefully and painlessly.

It is already difficult enough for patients like Christie White to receive the care they need — in her lawsuit, White cites the case of Brittany Maynard, who, in her weak and infirm condition, was required to move several states away from her home in San Francisco to Oregon, one of only three states with “death with ?dignity” laws.

The stress and pain of that move as she and her family pursued relief unnecessarily compounded an already challenging and painful ?situation.

Our lives are our own, and it is high time we are granted the right to conduct all of our days — including the final ones — as we deem best.

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