The Renegade Rip

California becomes the sixth state to legalize physician-assisted suicide

Victoria Miller, Opinions Editor

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Earlier this month, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that will allow terminally ill people to take their own life with the help of a physician, making California the sixth state to legalize physician-assisted suicide, or PAS.

PAS is not a new concept. Switzerland has allowed assisted suicides to take place since 1947. In Belgium, euthanasia is legal, including for people who are mentally distressed.

A euthanasia roller-coaster was even designed (although never assembled) to kill willing patients in a supposedly fun and painless manner by decreasing oxygen to the brain, making the person lose consciousness before killing them by the g-forces.

While euthanasia seems to be a bit disturbing, especially a euthanasia roller-coaster, which tries to bring a sense of fun in to the somber act of dying, PAS for terminally ill patients is different.

The difference between PAS and euthanasia is the act of the patient killing themselves (usually done by drinking a mixture of water and a lethal dose of barbiturates) with the help of a physician, rather than someone physically killing the patient.

The difference between the two is important. It’s important for the person who wishes to die to have a physical part in taking their own life. It demonstrates that this is really the person’s wish, and it limits room for abuse.

PAS gives terminally ill patients the option to have more control over when and how they will die. This option will allow these people a sense of power that their illness has robbed them of.

The law makes it necessary for the person wishing to utilize the PAS law to have been given six months or less to live by multiple physicians. By giving these dying patients the option to end their own life in a safe environment within the last six months of their lives, they can retain a certain dignity in dying.

Instead of waiting for their illness to shut down every vital function of their body, which will inevitably happen with their diagnosis, they can exit life while still feeling OK.

Another reason why legalization of assisted suicides is necessary is because suicides will happen legally or illegally. If someone is determined to end their suffering by taking their life, they will do it regardless if they’re assisted by a physician and in a safe environment. They will end their own life even if a painless and humane exit isn’t guaranteed. A safe and peaceful alternative should be provided for these people.

There are multiple comforts that come along with an assisted suicide versus a regular suicide. With an assisted suicide, the dying patient can have friends and family in the room to be with them in their last moments.

In places where assisted suicides are criminalized, numerous dying patients have taken an overdose of medication without telling anyone, in fear of putting a loved one in danger of criminalization. This makes these people feel obligated to die alone.

If PAS is legal, the dying patient won’t feel criminalized in their last few moments when taking the drugs, and they can try to relax and feel peace.

Watching “How to Die in Oregon”, a documentary on Netflix, really exposed me to the personal side of PAS. It starts with a home video of a man about to take his life with the help of PAS,

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The news site of Bakersfield College
California becomes the sixth state to legalize physician-assisted suicide