Assisted Suicide Essay

1890 words - 8 pages

Life is essentially a constant victory over death. Although this feat seems ideal, there is a category of society that wishes to lose. Some of these people turn to assisted suicide in order to fulfill their ultimate desires. Oregon, Washington, and Vermont are currently the only states that allow this act to be carried out. Commonly assumed to be synonymous to euthanasia, the most palpable difference between to two is who performs the task. In euthanasia, a physician will administer a lethal dosage of medicine, while assisted suicide is characterized by the patient administering it to him or herself. As the issue of legalization gains more momentum, a general argument has formed for the most ...view middle of the document...

Following this section, there is a detailed procedure that must be completed before a prescription is written. The steps include a confirmation of the diagnosis and prognosis, two oral requests, a written request witnessed by two people, and a psychological exam should the physician have cause to believe the patient’s mental stability is compromised (Norman-Eady).
In order to decide whether or not assisted suicide should have been legalized, the voters of Oregon most likely considered the pain terminal illnesses bring upon every member of a family. Supporting groups won over voters with emotionally charged speeches in which the depressing life of constant anguish was illustrated. The film How to Die in Oregon, directed by Peter Richardson, made its first appearance at the 27th Sundance Film Festival. Richardson follows the life of Cody Curtis, a terminally ill woman in Oregon. She was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, a form of cancer that originates in the bile ducts at the age of 52. Curtis and her family were interviewed periodically throughout the film, answering various questions pertaining to the Death with Dignity Act, Cody’s specific situation, and how they feel about assisted suicide in general. The film is emotionally charged; the intimate relationship Richardson goes about to build between Cody Curtis and the audience greatly influences their emotions. Cody and her family share their lives with Richardson and, as an extension, the audience. This fact is significant when considering the ultimate goal of How to Die in Oregon. Richardson accompanied the family on their family trips, hospital visits, and the goodbyes Cody bid to the people in her life. The last scene of the film shows the Curtis house from outside, while the family is in the front room. The curtains are drawn for privacy, so the silhouettes are assumed to be Cody’s family gathered around her. As she lay dying, Cody tells her family, “This is so easy. I wish people knew how easy this was.” Richardson includes this line at this moment to show the audience that Cody is able to attain the peace she wanted throughout the film. The general message Richardson sends to the audience is that assisted suicide allows for more personal autonomy- that people will be able to end their lives before becoming unable to care for themselves. In many of her interviews, Cody expresses how grateful she is for the option to decide how she will die. At about 27 minutes, she discusses the ability she has to prepare to die; she has written her family letters and knows what image of herself she wants to leave. Each member of the family is also seen crying on camera during some point of the film. By including the vulnerability of the Curtis’, Richardson builds on his strength of emotional appeal. Those who attended the Sundance Film Festival or find the film on Netflix are related to through the basic premise of humanity. The film reflects on Richardson’s understanding of the impact death has upon...

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