The right to die

March 25, 2012
By Anonymous

Gladys Fiorini, a ninety four year old American woman, and one of the estimated four million Americans currently suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. She has endured this disease for approximately three to four years, she is my grandmother and I have seen her go through it all up to this point. I saw her go from an adorable old grandma to being weak, fragile, and no longer remembering who I am. Seeing her now and looking back to just a few years back completely breaks my heart. I used to be able to have never ending conversations with her as she told my mother and I about her life when she was young, and now when she sees me she asks me if I work there (in my own house). Alzheimer’s is a terminal disease; it has an unknown cause, and consists of memory lapses, confusion, emotional instability, and progressive loss of mental ability. Watching a loved one go through this disease is simply terrible. They eventually have no idea who they are and at a point their brains may even forget how to do simple things that one must do in order to live, such as remembering how to chew/swallow food and how to breathe. As far as I’m concerned my family has never discussed whether she has the right to die, although my step-dad has stated he will never make that decision for her. What has been argued is whether she should keep on taking any prolonging life medications, and that is still unresolved among her three daughters and three sons.
Alzheimer’s disease is only one of the sixteen most common terminal diseases in the United States along with many varieties of heart disease, cancer, and AIDS. The wide spread of these diseases have now sparked the controversial law of the right to die. The right to die is a law that if passed would allow a person with a terminal illness the right to medically end their life, be medically assisted with it, or decline a prolonging life treatment. The right to die should be passed with certain limitations. If a person is exceedingly ill, and going through tremendous agony they should be able to make that decision. Someone else should not be allowed to make that decision as long as the patient is sane. Also considered is that if one is in an irreversible coma the only person/people that should be able to make the verdict is their physician(s). A decision like that should not be placed in the hands of any of the family members. Along with that, if a patient is terminally ill and not mentally capable of making the decision themselves no one else especially the family and in this case neither should the physician make the decision, but they should be left alone with no prolonging life treatments.
The passing of this law can allow for a number of advantages. No longer would people have to submit to their horribly painful disease, and/or the prolonging life medicine that does more harm than good. There are up to eighteen side-effects associated with chemotherapy for cancer treatments. Not only do patients go through physical changes such as losing their hair but also go through severe pain, they can suffer from an infection(s), bleeding problems, vomiting, and just utter pain. Many of these patients find themselves asking if it’s worth it, particularly the ones with a lesser chance of survival. Patients with Alzheimer’s taking medicine have even more of a disadvantage. In addition to already being elderly and quite fragile, the prolonging life medicines they take can only benefit a couple of its symptoms, but causes a number of side-effects such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Other side-effects include stomach cramps, headaches, dizziness, fatigue and insomnia. Although these side-effects may appear mild to an average human being, the age of the people has to be put into consideration, as stated before they are already fragile and weak, their bodies cannot offer to put up with it all. Patients going through either of these terminal diseases aren’t the only ones that suffer. Their family members go through the pain with them. Seeing a person you love in agony is one of the most upsetting things to go through and not being remembered by your own relative can bring tears to one’s eyes.
This law could also allow medical funds to be freed up to other patients in need. When asked if a patient with a non functioning brain is considered dead forty percent (almost half) of the medical staff said yes, and that the patient should be put to rest. Millions of (tax) dollars are put into keeping people alive by the prolonging life treatments discussed in the previous paragraph and by keeping patients with a non reversible coma alive through machines. The money that is spent on this could be used for patients that have a curable disease and/or a higher chance to survive.
By bringing in morals to this controversy many people would argue that this law devalues human life, but in reality it does the contrary. Having the right to die would also give the patient the right to die with dignity. Not only that but they would be given time to say they goodbyes to their loved ones and they could just rest… They could spend their last living moments at rest, with no pain from side-effects. Along with that others may also bring in religion to the topic, and while many are opposed to it, statistics show that over fifty percent of “religious” people support it. The Roman Catholic Church is by far the most opposing church stating that “Life is the gift of God and is thus only to be taken by God”. I have been raised Roman Catholic, therefore rose to believe that “suicide” is a sin. However while still taking Roman Catholicism into consideration; I have grown to develop my own morals and values. I don’t believe that God is mean; God is loving and forgiving right? He isn't mean or hateful; he’s caring, and forgiving. Whether a person dies of natural causes, homicide or suicide, he will take you in. We can all say whatever we want about religion and how selfish the right to die is but only the patients know what they’re going through, and although we experience some of the pain none of it compares to the pure agony they are being put through. I trust God sees how much they ache, how much they need an escape, and forgives them.
The right to die should be legalized for the numerous benefits it may well bring to this country. This law will aid to many causes; The millions of dollars that could very well help this economy, the person suffering from a terminal illness will at last be put to rest in peace, and their families will no longer have to weep in sorrow.

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