Killing pain different than killing people

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On Saturday, Nov. 1, terminally-ill cancer patient Brittany Maynard chose to end her own life after just 29 years by means of drugs prescribed to her under Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act. After being told that she had less than six months to live, Maynard decided to resist the slow and painful mental dilapidation that she would have suffered from her disease.

The concept of an early death in order to relinquish future pain is already practiced with animals. This practice is regarded as “putting it out of its misery,” which is commonplace and is widely accepted as the humane thing to do. Said method is especially embodied in the popular book Old Yeller, where the main character of the novel shoots a rabid dog in order to end the inevitable pain and suffering it would have felt in its demise. In this situation, a human outside the sphere of illness makes a judgement call on ending the animal’s life. A similar case arises when those opposed to the Death with Dignity Act who are not terminally ill decide that one should not be allowed to end their pain and suffering through medical means. A person not affected by such painful illnesses lacks the perspective of those who do have it and fail to grasp the situation through the eyes of someone who has had to deal with such misery.

The Death with Dignity Act is often wrongly associated with suicide, which is a very rash juxtaposition. Death with Dignity is a well-thought-out and educated choice made by people who are trusted to be in a sufficiently healthy mental state to make such an important choice. A suicide is a hasty decision generally made out of desperation and not always by people in a good mental state.

“I am not suicidal; If I were I would have consumed that medication long ago,” Maynard said on CNN.com. “I do not want to die, but I am dying; and I want to die on my own terms.”
In 2013, 71 people in the state of Oregon passed away using medication prescribed to them by their physicians under the Death with Dignity Act, according to the Oregon Health Authority. These 71 people made an educated choice to end the pain and suffering they would have had to deal with until their death. Death with Dignity is not just a means to an end but a humane way of ending a terminal illness.