A selection of our reader comments is provided below. While not all of the comments are as on point as others, we believe many of our readers' comments add perspective and flavor to our core question"Should euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide be legal?" and this site.
We posted these pro, con, and not clearly pro or con comments in the approximate ratio that we received them. (For example, if 60% of the responses received are "pro," then about 60% of the responses posted below would be "pro").
The comments are arranged in reverse chronological order within each category. We sometimes edit comments for brevity, clarity, and spelling. We may also remove comments posted when we find better comments covering the same issues or for other good reasons. To preserve confidentiality, only the writer's first name is noted, unless he/she has waived confidentiality. Respondents are generally notified when we add their comments to this section.
PRO Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide
CON Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide
"I have had spine-bone pain for so many years it is not good. In 26 bones [I have] 'bilateral arthropathy.' I live alone and would far rather see my 'Trust' inherited by my well and healthy daughter. I had a 'crush trauma' accident in '66 with a horse, and [now I have] secondary deterioration at 13 levels in my discs. All my discs are off and non-operable. Ways of suicide seem so bloody.
After 7 years of thinking of it I would want an assisted, drugged euthanasia. It would be calm, with medical personnel, and like a pet being put out. I feel it would be fair to me, and is my god-given right as a Canadian citizen who put in my best." Susan, Feb. 10, 2011
"The definition of Euthanasia should be expanded to encompass the realm of 'mental' illness such as depression as well as terminal illnesses such as cancer... If the person is determined able to make rational decisions, they should be allowed, whether or not they want to continue to live with the illness regardless of what religious, political groups or others have to say in regard to the subject. Euthanasia is a personal matter and should be left to the affected individual, no one else!" Scott, Oct. 25, 2010
"I work in a nursing home and often wonder what a patient thinks, some wish they could die. I had to make the choice with my father who has a massive MI [myocardial infarction or heart attack] and after days to take him off life support. As a family member to do this is still hard to fathom, but shouldn't a person have the right to choose when they are of able mind and body. I have been in the medical field for over 20 years, I have watched doctors put patients on dialysis just for the money, when you ask that person what they want often its just to say goodbye to a loved one and die. I believe we need to take a stand on PA [physician-assisted] suicide and make it legal." Lee, May 14, 2010
"Among the 'certain inalienable rights' identified by our founders, the right to die as we choose was not listed among them. This omission has left a trail of suffering and family trauma in its wake ever since. What possible form of logic or religion would entomb a person in a suffering, worthless body who no longer wants to occupy it? Are not the terms of your final exit the most precious of all personal freedoms?... Family members may need to face up to this reality and let them go with dignity when that is THEIR CHOICE." Lewis, Oct. 29, 2009
"What is the point of keeping a person alive against their will when they are suffering unbearably and have no prospect of any recovery? Why should they not die peacefully at a time of their own choosing? Prolonged suffering achieves nothing." Sandra, Sep. 15, 2009
"Many years I've pondered on the over-population of this world. I wondered why people put such emphasis on living forever...
I object strongly to people being forbidden to make the decision to die at their own leisure...
I believe there are a number of us that will willingly leave the body - are ready to leave - if given the simple freedom to choose." Lyda, Sep. 6, 2009
"I was a staff nurse when the whole idea of Living Wills was implemented. It was in the 1980s...
I had a grandpa who had ALS who also never wanted to be kept alive once he got to the point where he would not be functional. That was in the 60s and society was far from supporting the idea of euthanasia or Living Wills. Long story short, he lived till 1990 and the hospital allowed me to sign to have him removed from his ventilator, which at that time was still rare, except that I was a nurse so they allowed me to give permission and respected his wishes not be living by ventilator.
I have always found it was important to be educated about decisions such as this and am very happy to discover a place that does this for a living! Because these issues come up so many places in my professional career I read about the pros & cons all the time and served on ethics committees for the hospitals and did a medical ethics rotation while in grad school." Cheryl, Mar. 5, 2009
"As far as I'm concerned, the authorities need to stay out of a person's personal wishes for a dignified passing when they're terminally ill and are in dire pain. There is no dignity for anyone suffering to a point where there is no quality of life. We all hope and pray for an easy way to die but that does not always happen. I have seen family members and friends suffer to the point where they were begging to die. Should we disrespect and deny their wishes to accommodate those who don't feel or understand what they're going through? I think not. We should all have the right to plan for our own peaceful and dignified exit from this life. Were I to be in such a position where I have no quality of life left, I'd wish there were those that would ease my pain and suffering and help me with a dignified passing." Audrey, Feb. 26, 2009
"Although life support is an amazing invention it can't rebuild and reinstate already failed organs it only keeps them moving at a rate that keeps blood and oxygen flowing through the body. Elderly people who have lived their lives and are permanently stuck to numerous machines in pain, have the right to accept their inevitable death with open arms by refusing to be resuscitated. Patients left in a purely vegetative state, like Terri Schiavo, that contain no brain activity shouldn't be left to lay there when they have no chance at revival. She was in a persistent vegetative state for seven years before her husband won the right to put her body to rest. By staying connected to life support she kept gaining more infections but her brain damage wasn't healing.
Although money isn't... the primary thing thought of when a loved one is in the hospital to keep a person on life support is about $27,000 per day. When dealing with irreversible illnesses after a prolonged period of time, the money spent on trying to help one person in vain could easily destroy the lives of their supporters.
We should prevent the passing of selfish legislature that tries to close the last painless option to terminally ill patients." Isabel, Feb. 19, 2009
"My paper is on Euthanasia. This topic is so interesting, as is your website. I find it pretty helpful for my paper, but sadly I have to use other sources too. I have a wealth of information now. I actually found the website during a google search, but it was near the top. I will inform my teacher about it as it may help her. I will spread the word.” Beth, Apr. 29, 2008
"I believe euthanasia should be legalized... throw in safeguards to avoid the parade of concerns trotted out by opponents - some of them are well taken. But wholesale laws prohibiting assisted-deaths are ultimately nothing more than government-sponsored religious-based dogma and should be repealed and replaced with sensible, compassionate laws...
[E]ven the Oregonian law doesn't go far enough. That law only honors a right to die if an individual is terminally ill and is expected to die within 6 months and asks the physician to end their suffering early. People with Alzheimer's who no longer know who they are, who are bedridden and who cannot clothe or feed themselves can live for years and years and so will not fit that criteria. Folks in the early stage of Alzheimer's, when they can still demonstrate the ability to reason, should be able to dictate the benchmarks for when they would like to die with dignity." Cecilia, Feb. 6, 2008
"I sincerely hope that all Liberals, feminists and environmentalists take full advantage of euthanasia as soon as possible. I am very much in favor of euthanasia for these people. The sooner the world is rid of them, the better off the rest of us will be." Patrick, June 3, 2007
"Thank you for providing a 'voice' for those who choose to take the opportunity. I'm 72 yrs. of age; female. And I am totally in favor of the 'right to choose'. For me, these few words are sufficient: 'WHOSE LIFE IS IT ANYWAY.' Taking extenuating circumstances into consideration, of course is very important. But at the end of life's road if it becomes more than what we choose to travel -- then the words in quotation marks above say it all. Thank you for the great website, and the opportunity to voice my opinion. Good wishes to you all." Arlene, Dec. 12, 2007
"I've thought about it [euthanasia] a lot in the last few years as my health is deteriorating... I've had an interesting life but quite frankly all I can look forward to now is a relentless decrease in my mobility and consequent quality of life. At the moment all that is open to me will be suicide when the time comes but why can't I choose euthanasia if its dignified, easy, painless and of your own choosing? I agree that safeguards must be in place to protect the vulnerable but I want it for anybody who is of sound mind and chooses this recourse." Joy, July 25, 2007
"This message is coming from a female who has suffered from a 'seizure disorder' for the past 23 years. Over this time the condition has only worsened. And, yes, I have sought treatment at some of the most well-known facilities, such as John Hopkins and even Harvard. And yet, I have absolutely no quality of life, the condition remains uncontrolled after countless therapies. If there were a Dr. Kevorkian available to me, I would gladly place myself in his hands and end this torture. I also do not have any substance abuse or psychiatric disorder. How could any doctor sleep at night knowing the torture I am subject to. Euthanasia laws should not be a crime, but an end to torture." Carole, July 2, 2007
"I'm a CNA in a nursing home for 12 years now, some things I've seen would sway the pro vote on euthanasia. These poor people are kept alive with false hopes to the family [by] greedy facilities, doctors, and pharmacies. So many of my patients should've long been passed, but instead they are tortured with a life that they should no longer be a part of, just for the sake of money. It is a mortifying fact that I have watched everyday so much that it makes me ill. I certainly don't want to be kept alive like that. No tubes and vents, hoses, IV's etc, when my mind is clearly gone just shoot me, if euthanasia doesn't become legal. We give our animals this option so they don't suffer, why not humans?" Anonymous, June 28, 2007
"Editors and commentators wasted little time trying to connect with the public's opinion of freshly released Jack Kevorkian or 'Doctor Death,' calling him 'creepy, disgusting, ominous, repulsive' - applying any adjective hoping to nestle in with what they think is America's sentiment towards the old Doc. How presumptuous!... If it wasn't Greek or sounded clinical, euthanasia might garner more interest to a generation eight years older than Kevorkian's first day in prison. I remember the press being so egotistically certain that Kevorkian was evil - that mercy killing had no place for Western consideration. Yet, I also remember a distinct mix of emotions on the subject. It was the first time we'd had to deal with the issue on a national level. Americans were actually trying to reconcile that which Kevorkian had long settled in his own heart - the result of empirical, not theoretical experience with the hurting, terminally ill.
Jack Kevorkian pricked our consciences - made us and our lily-livered politicians stand on one side of the fence or the other. Finally, America, followed its poll-driven leaders, chose the pompous side of the fence. We essentially told our extremely suffering fellow citizens that we would micro-manage and legislate their freedoms right up to their last agonizing breath." Glenny, June 4, 2007
"Dr Kevorkian was a good man, before he went to jail, and he is a good man still. If there is right to life there is certainly a right to death. If we can award a voice to the unborn we certinly can award a voice to the living. As a current survivor of non-hodgkins lymphoma( better living through chemistry), I have given the quality of life much thought. I certainly have a right to judge when my own, continued, existance is enough. I have the ability to recognize when I am not willing to endure additional pain. Society has no right to tell me that they know better better than [I] do." Jack, June 4, 2007
"My father has Lou Gehrig's disease also, and is like a vegetable and is writing down words saying how he just wants to die. He is suffering so much. I think he should be able to have a lethal injection also. I am all for Kevorkian, and he should have never went to prison all those years." Karen, June 1, 2007
"I used to be totally against Euthanasia, but now am rethinking my position. The reason is that my 84 year old mother no longer has much quality of life. She was extremely ill 2 weeks ago and we thought she was going then, but she rallied. She has told me several times since then that she feels 'worn out' and is 'ready to go,' 'ready to go home'... Years ago, she would have been gone by now. She can no longer read, write, or enjoy her life as she used to. I have come to believe that our medical society is keeping her alive, and for what?" Donna, Apr. 8, 2007
"I think euthanasia is the right thing to do, but in some cases it is wrong, but in my opinion I believe it is right." Miski, Mar. 21, 2007
"I strongly believe that euthanasia should be legalized in the U.S. We put animals to 'sleep' because they are in pain due to old age, etc. but yet we in America feel that we should prolong life as long as possible, despite the wishes of the patient or the family...
I have lived in pain for 20+ years and my only hope is surgery... Needless to say, as much as I want to see my children have children, if the surgery doesn't work to alleviate at least 50% of the pain I am seriously going to look into euthanasia because I feel like a dog who is in pain but because I am human, I have to live with the pain. I am not living -- I am merely existing." Linda, Mar. 4, 2007
"People live to make most out of that life. If a person can't do for themselves, and are terminally ill, why torture them by putting them under drugs?" T, Mar. 3, 2007
"I skimmed the pro and con arguments, and was a bit surprised to see you using this quote, as it's simply false:
'Yet the September 1991 official government Remmelink Report on euthanasia in the Netherlands revealed that at least 1,040 people die every year from involuntary euthanasia. Their physicians were so consumed with compassion that they decided not to disturb the patients by asking their opinion on the matter.'
If you read the Remmelink report, it makes clear that almost all of these patients were within hours of death and no longer competent. So 'decided not to disturb them' is utterly misleading."
Peter Singer, Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, University Center for Human Values, Princeton University, Jan. 31, 2007
"Compassion & Choices does not support euthanasia, but does support physician aid in dying.
The difference is that with euthanasia control is in the hands of a third party, most often a medical professional who administers a lethal dose of medication by injection, whereas in the latter a physician writes a prescription for a lethal dose of medication that the terminally ill person can then take when, and if, he or she so chooses. Thus, control remains with the patient at all times. We have found that about 45% of the patients who receive the medication never take it, but want to have it available as an 'insurance policy' should all else fail."
Roland L. Halpern, Director Community Relations, Compassion & Choices, Jan. 12, 2007
"In your definitions of euthanasia you never include that the death should be at the continuing request of an intractably ill patient. In the Right-to-Die movement it is always assumed that Voluntary precedes the word Euthanasia. That distinguishes the act from Mercy Killing where the act is merciful but the person is unable to make the request."
Faye Girsh, Board Member, World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies, Jan. 10, 2007
"I think euthanasia is important for dignity in death and should be legal." Noah, Nov. 2, 2006
"Euthanasia is the same thing that Hitler did, how can he be wrong, and now it's okay. Wake up people!
Have doctors now become USA legal lynch men?... The USA is really good about going to other countries and seeing ugly things that go on and reporting them [as if they] never happen here. Stop the killing of sick human beings, instead provide them [with] medications to help them stay out of pain so that can pass on naturally. Stop putting expiration dates on human beings, doctors are not Gods." V., July 26, 2009
"I am doing a middle school debate on euthanasia and my group was against it. Personally I am against it but it is so hard to find reliable facts about the cons of euthanasia. Then I came across this website and it is the only one that had opinions that apply to everyone that make sense! I especially liked the con about 'patients suffering about end of life' talking about the claim that the laws are government mandated suffering compared to government mandated starvation, it was to the point and in your face and it was one of the strongest points that I have found on Google. Anyway just wanted to thank you for your great work on this website." Matthew, Feb. 1, 2008
"There is grave responsibility in this matter before God first - and man, second. From a Christian perspective, it is believed to be wrong to take human life, whatever the reasons. The explicit commandment 'Thou shall not kill,' sums up the entire conscience dilemma, had it not been for which, euthanasian death would have been one of the noblest acts of mercy in totally hopeless situations...
[W]e either disregard the medical condition of our patients and leave their fate to God, or disregard God's role and take action ourselves for an instant relief of ones that are suffering.
Bottom-line is, I'm against euthanasia, but I cannot imagine myself standing there watching another human suffering, with no hope of recovery and do nothing." Elizus, Dec. 20, 2007
"I think euthanasia is wrong. If someone is deathly ill then that is one thing, but if there is someone who has a 50% chance of living and their husband or husband wants to pull the plug so that they can get all the person's money, then that is wrong." Shalimar, Apr. 11, 2007
"A wise man once said 'We die ourselves every time we kill in someone something that had to live' Whatever happened to the sacrosanctity of life? If we do not have hope, then on what pillar should the world be based?" Winnifred, Feb. 15, 2007
"I think euthanasia is a bad idea because it is never okay for one person to kill another. Mercy killing is immoral and an oxymoron.” Dmitri, Nov. 2, 2006
NOT CLEARLY PRO OR CON Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide
"This [debate surrounding euthanasia] is always going to be a topic of controversy no matter how much we debate, because this is more a topic of morals then anything else, and like history seems to tell us, through the wars, battles, and evolutions of man: morals are ever changing and always different. Therefore, a decisive and agreeable solution will never be found to appease everyone." Kris, June 24, 2008
"This is neither pro, nor con. I believe that putting an intractably ill and terribly suffering person's life to an end is not immoral, regarding it is motivated by the act of human mercy, which is one of the basic and most fundamental moral traits. This of course, on the horizontal, human level of affairs.However, there is the vertical level yet to worry about, i.e. the upward human relation with the creator... God. Taking a human life; killing, is against God's commandments, in two heavenly religions at least (of course, should we assume that the people involved are believers and have any regard for His opinion and command).” Elizus, Jan. 16, 2007