Top Pro & Con Arguments
MAID ensures thoughtful regulation of the practice.
American death with dignity laws are based on Oregon’s 1994 law, which was the first such American law enacted. The laws all have “stringent eligibility requirements” and “safeguards that [d]ata and studies show… work as intended, protecting patients and preventing misuse.” The safeguards include but are not limited to: being an adult with a terminal illness and fewer than six months to live, mentally competent, and able to self-administer the drugs. Each state requires the patient to make several requests to several doctors in person with witnesses and waiting periods between requests. And the patient may stop the process at any time before taking the lethal medication.
Healthcare providers are under no obligation to participate in MAID but, if they do, they have to stop the process for mental health evaluations if needed or if coercion is suspected. Each state also has strict reporting protocols.
Even Catholic priests have recognized the need for regulated death without agreeing morally with MAID. “And of the two possibilities, assisted suicide is the one [versus euthanasia] that most restricts abuses…. [So] it is a question of seeing which law can limit evil,” argues Father Renzo Pegoraro, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
Many consider medical aid in dying laws a slippery slope to the abuse of vulnerable groups. But as journalist George Will pointed out, “Life is lived on a slippery slope: Taxation can become confiscation, police can become instruments of tyranny, laws can metastasize suffocatingly. However, taxation, police and laws are indispensable. The challenge is to minimize dangers that cannot be entirely eliminated from society…. MAID, enveloped in proper protocols, can and should be a dignity-enhancing response to especially harrowing rendezvous with the inevitable.”
Rather than denying terminally ill people the grace of a good death because the law might go awry, society should work to strengthen protections for vulnerable groups and enforce laws that already make actions such as elder abuse illegal.Read More