The Right to Die
We all agree that we have a right to life. We may disagree on when it begins (birth vs conception), but we know and agree that a right to life exists on some level.
Most people don’t talk or think about it, but there is an equally important right on the opposite end of the spectrum: the right to die.
Why do we have the right to die?
Like any other right, the right to die is an extension of individual rights. It’s fairly easy to figure out why we have a right to die. We own ourselves, therefore we own our bodies. We can choose what we do with our bodies, whether it be exercising, getting tattoos, doing drugs, or anything in between. You can do whatever you want with your body. Logically, it follows that if you can do whatever you want with your body, you have the right to kill it. Therefore, you have a right to die.
For most people, the right to die doesn’t really matter. The vast majority of people don’t want to die – at least not anytime soon – and don’t think much of their right to die. We take it for granted, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.
The Right to Die in Action
The right to die often arises in sad, unfortunate situations. Most people can’t understand why someone would want to die, but it’s easy to understand why someone would want to die when you consider what terminally ill patients are going through.
For example, consider the case of Harriet Scott. Scott was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and had somewhere between a week and two months to live. All she wanted was to have the choice of how she died.
Wanting a choice in life is understandable. The ability to choose is what makes us free and allows us to feel as though we are in control of our lives. In Scott’s eyes, if she had to die, she’d rather die on her terms, rather than on cancer’s terms. I think we can all relate to that, albeit maybe not with terminal cancer. Everyone wants to do things their own way. Who are we – or the government, for that matter – to tell people that they have to suffer with a painful terminal illness?
The story of Robbie Schnurr is no different. Schnurr suffered from severe neurological damage for years after drinking contaminated water. As he said in the video below, “I’m gonna die… Most people don’t want to die… but life is no fun for me… I just didn’t want to suffer anymore. That’s about it.”
Coming to America
As you may have noticed, both of those videos were of patients from Canada. This is because Canada adopted the practice of physician-assisted suicide earlier than most of the United States did. However, the United States’s aversion to physician-assisted suicide is slowly changing.
Just yesterday, New Jersey became the eight state to adopt some form of legislation permitting physician-assisted suicide. Here are all of the places where physician-assisted suicide is legal:
As you can see, physician-assisted suicide is only legal in the more liberal states. However, this does not reflect the general viewpoint of Americans.
I’m very much in favor of the right to pursue physician-assisted suicide. I’m not saying it’s the right answer, but I do believe that on this (as well as every other) topic, you and I should be free to choose as we see fit.