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Right to Die Law

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Initiative 1000, Washington State

As we progress into the future, people continue to create technology, which allows for better life sustaining treatments for patients. In addition, there are those who embrace these life-sustaining technologies; however, there are others who do not want to suffer or burden their families financially or emotionally. In some states, physician-assisted suicide is considered illegal, while in other states, it is considered legal due to certain laws and regulations, also known as the right to die law. This policy is aimed in assisting terminally ill patients over the age of 18 to have their choice in how they die. These terminally ill patients have often times been terminally ill for years and have suffered tremendously. They deserve the option to be informed of all end of life care, including physician assisted suicide. It would be a shame if patients were kept alive against their will and occasionally in these situations patients will go to extremes to cause their death and Washington and Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act allows patients the option of physician assisted suicide and allows them to have complete control over the process. They are allowed to rescind their request at any point and they also have the option after being prescribed the lethal medication of not actually ingesting it. This part of the law allows patients to have control over their care and have power in a very vulnerable and questionable situation. According to Atlmann and Collins (2007), the development began in 1967 when people started writing a living will on what actions to take if they were to become in competent and terminally ill; in addition, the first right to die bill was brought up in Florida, which have been rejected many times. The subject of a patient’s right to die was further discussed in 1976 when the parents of Karen Ann Quinlan fought to take her off of life support. It was said that this was a form of murder and that the parents had no right to sustain her from treatment and should have prolonged her life. The Hemlock Society was founded in the 1980’s, where members supported the right to die and self-autonomy. The Hemlock Society distributed right to die information and launched a campaign to support autonomy. In the 1990s, public opinion polls were conducted and it was found that people were more afraid of being kept alive, while suffering, than dying. This poll allowed for others to understand how significant the Right to Die law was. Washington’s Death with Dignity Act was passed on November 4, 2008 but did not go into effect until March 5, 2009. It legalized physician-assisted suicide in the state of Washington. This law replicates the Oregon Death with Dignity law that was passed on October 27, 1997. Even though this law replicates Oregon’s Death with Dignity law the state of Washington has regulations that must be followed to make sure that this law is not abused and everything operates smoothly. Not only do the medical professionals have safeguards to follow but so do the patients requesting the medication. Most of the patients usually request physician assisted suicide with the nurses that help them with their daily activities but the nurses have nothing to do with this procedure. In order to officially make a request for this procedure the patient must be at least 18 years old, a resident of the state of Washington, and must have been diagnosed terminally ill or only having six months to live. If the patient meets those requirements they must then make an oral and written request to their physician, which must be signed and dated by the patient and two other witnesses, one of whom must not be a relative, attending physician, or anyone working at the health facility that the patient is being treated. After the first initial oral request a second one must be made within 15 days to the same attending physician, if at any time the patient changes his... Show More

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