Do People Have The Right To Die?

2405 words - 10 pages

A disabled man shares his personal experience with euthanasia:

As a quadriplegic who has been paralyzed from the chest down for over 24 years, I want to address the dangerous potential ramifications of legalizing physician assisted suicide (PAS) from a viewpoint of personal experience. The past danger I am referring to concerns the time when I was first paralyzed. My paralysis is the result of a broken neck and spinal cord injury from a car accident in 1975. Add to this cheery scenario the fact that I was soon greeted by a doctor who told me I was not supposed to have lived as long as I had, would most likely die shortly, or, in the best case would spend the remainder of my life confined to a wheelchair and you know I was not in the best of moods. After I surprised the doctors and lived to get into rehab, they told me, at that time, the average lifespan of a male quadriplegic was 36 years.

By then, I would probably die from a pressure sore, kidney failure, or other related complication. That meant my best hope was 15 more years paralyzed. I'm 45 now and can look back on that laughingly. It wasn't so funny then. I spent 6 weeks getting medically stable followed by 4 and a half months in rehabilitation. During that period, there were MANY times when I didn't know if I wanted to go on. What have I done since the accident? I have lived semi-independently for nearly 23 years. In 1985, I graduated the University of Southern Maine with a B.A. in Communication. In 1989, I graduated Regent University in Virginia Beach with an M.A. in Creative Writing/Journalism.

While there, I also worked with a large non-profit organization, received an outstanding service award for working 5 years in an inner city project, wrote and sold 2 radio dramas that were nationally syndicated, wrote a one-act play that was produced several times, plus worked on a national presidential campaign. To put it simply, my life has been, and continues to be, full and productive. My past concern is simple. What would I have done if PAS had been an option when I was first injured or during any of the critical complications I've been through since. In retrospect, there were many times when I don't know. I can't begin to express the roller coaster of emotional ups and downs I went through. Now, I'm incredibly grateful that PAS wasn't an option (How Physician Assisted Suicide Could Affect People).

If this disabled man was a resident in Oregon, he would have had the option of voluntary euthanasia. In the most excruciating and painful moments, he may have been compelled to request to die. Luckily, the policies of the legal system he lived within did not permit euthanasia and he proceeded to live a dignified life. The state of Oregon is the only state in the United States that allows voluntary euthanasia to occur legally. On January 1st, 2004, Oregon will be entering its sixth year under the Death with Dignity Act. The Death and Dignity Act legalizes voluntary euthanasia. It is...

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