Mar 31, 2015 11:51 AM EDT
When one thinks of the words "doctor assisted suicide" and "euthanasia," the name Jack Kevorkian immediately comes to mind. Kevorkian helped end the lives of dozens of people through the injection of lethal drugs. While each of his "patients" were willing participants in their own deaths, Dr. Kevorkian was eventually tried and convicted for his role in helping them to end their lives.
Kevorkian was sentenced to 10 to 25 years in a maximum security prison, but according to the New York Times he was released following his promise to authorities never to assist in another suicide.
Now, euthanasia is taking on a new face in the public arena. This face is not that of a doctor who is willing to help others in various stages of suffering end their lives. This is in fact, multiple doctors who have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses themselves.
Dan Swangard is one of several physicians in the state of California who have formed a lawsuit asking that the state pass laws to protect doctors who wish to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients. According to NPR, the lawsuit argues the fact that terminally ill patients who choose to take lethal drugs shouldn't be considered suicides, but rather a case of someone who is already dying being allowed to choose when and how they expire.
If the lawsuit is successful, California would join Washington, Oregon, and Vermont in having a "Death with Dignity Law," and will be the fourth state to see the late Dr. Kevorkian's wish come to pass.
The idea of physician assisted suicide is a topic of hot debate for people on both sides of the fence. Pro life supporters argue that it is a doctor's job to extend the life of their patient, no matter what the quality of that life might be. They argue that if the government stamps approval on doctor assisted suicide, then it's just a small step from there to government ordered suicide.
Those who support the "Death with Dignity" laws argue that it's a quantum leap to jump from a physician enabling a terminally ill patient to end their life to the ordered murder of patients who are "weak links" in society.
What do you think? Should California become the fourth state to ratify a "Death with Dignity" law? Leave your opinion in the comments below!
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