The end of a life is a difficult time for all of those involved, yet there is an alternative that can make this difficult time not quite so devastating. There is a movement, Death with Dignity, that will allow individuals diagnosed with a terminally ill disease to choose when they die, with the medical term being known as physician-assisted death.
There are currently 5 states and Washington D.C that have legalized physician-assisted death. Georgia’s lack of legalized physician-assisted death is an issue for Georgia residents. Georgia legislature needs to consider all factors, and reevaluate the Death with Dignity Act.
Individuals should have the right to decide if they want to wait for the disease to run its course or choose if they do not want to endure the devastation of their disease.
One of the main arguments against physician-assisted death is that it is the same thing as committing suicide. Although physician-assisted death is ending one’s own life, it is extremely different than committing suicide.
Margaret Battin, professor of philosophy and adjunct professor of internal medicine in the division of medical ethics and humanities at the University of Utah.“The next, most important step in resolving these controversies is to move beyond the issue of whether physician aid-in-death is suicide and think instead about intentions, about choices, about what range of options we want, what roles we want to be able to play in our own eventual deaths.”
The diagnosis for their disease is already clear, so it is not surprising some wish to have some control over how their lives will end.
“I’m not committing suicide, and I don’t want to die. I’m not killing myself; bone cancer is taking care of that,” said James Newbold, a terminally-ill patient who argued to keep the act in 2005 when the George W. Bush administration challenged the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.
In Georgia, although there is no formal legislative action yet in favor of the Death with Dignity Act, there are advocacy and volunteer organizations such as Compassion & Choices.
As for the families of the individuals dying from these diseases, physician-assisted death can be a comforting option. The effects of witnessing loved ones suffer can be lasting on people, and while death is never easy, at least the families are left with a final memory of peace instead of pain.
Georgia is one of the many states that has overturned previous attempts at legalizing physician-assisted death. In 2012, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for individuals that have been deemed with a terminal illness to end their own lives. An individual's end of life should never be chosen by someone else. By Georgia refusing to legalize physician-assisted death, they don’t allow its citizens to have the final say over the end of their lives.
Death with Dignity is not something that should be shameful or hidden in the dark. People die everyday, and preceding a lot of these deaths are pain and misery. While Georgia has opted out of legalizing physician-assisted death, this law needs to be reconsidered. It’s not a way to escape or beat death. These people are already terminally ill, and they are going to die. It is no one's right to deny another human being the right to die with dignity.