Top Pro & Con Arguments


MAID allows terminally ill people to choose a “good death.”

The word “euthanasia” comes from the Greek word euthanatos, which means “easy death” or “good death.” [14]

In English, “euthanasia” has meant a good death since Francis Bacon described it as “after the fashion and semblance of a kindly & pleasant sleepe” in the early 17th century. The phrase “good death” has been associated with medical aid in dying ever since. [14]

While individual definitions of a “good death” may vary, a literature review found 94% of reports about what makes for a good death placed “preferences for dying process (94% of reports), pain-free status (81%), and emotional well-being (64%)” at the top of the lists from patients, family members, and healthcare providers. [15]

Many opponents of MAID define the practice as suicide, and thus not a good death. However, the American Association of Suicidology asserted that “suicide and physician aid in dying are conceptually, medically, and legally different phenomena.” [16]

Anita Hannig, Associate Professor of anthropology at Brandeis University, also distinguishes MAID from suicide: “Terminally ill patients who seek an assisted death aren’t suicidal. Absent a terminal prognosis, they have no independent desire to end their life…. Patients who pursue medical aid in dying are no longer looking at an open-ended life span either. To qualify for an assisted death in states with these laws they must already be on the verge of dying – that is, within six months of the end of their life. These patients don’t face a meaningful decision between living and dying, but between one kind of death and another.” [17]

Moreover, because of the waiting periods enforced by MAID laws, the patients have had time to carefully consider their choices for medical care and their own moral or spiritual obligations. Patients who choose medical aid in dying are typically surrounded by family, friends, and other loved ones when they die in a peaceful and comfortable environment. The patients have had time to say goodbye to other people in their lives. [16] [18]

Medical anthropologist Mara Buchbinder has amplified on the benefits of MAID, especially for patients facing a drawn-out physical and mental decline punctuated by incessant medical interventions and a painful and heavily sedated death: “MAID renders not only the time of death but also the broader landscape of death open to human control. MAID allows terminally ill patients to choreograph their own deaths, deciding not only when but where and how and with whom. Part of the appeal is that one must go on living right up until the moment of death. It takes work to engage in all the planning; it keeps one vibrant and busy. There are people to call, papers to file, and scenes to set [turning]… dying into an active extension of life.” [18]

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