Monday, November 3, 2014

Deciding Your Own Fate

            Many terminally ill patients endure a time in their life where the quality of living is not worth the unbearable hardship. Should these patients, by law, have the ability to end their own lives? We are given many rights living in the United States, but only five states legally allow their citizens to conclude their own fate. Brittany Maynard, a terminally ill cancer patient that recently ended her life under Oregon’s “Death with Dignity Act”, had spent the last months of her life as a euthanasia activist.  Representing terminally ill patients, she stressed the necessity for doctor’s being able to prescribe lethal medication. I strongly sympathize for patients like Maynard and agree that when looking at euthanasia at an individual perspective, it is morally suitable. Although, the possible effects when establishing laws must be looked at in a perspective that focuses on society as a whole. The United States is quite a heterogeneous country, which is why opinions on the legalization of euthanasia strongly differ among class and race. Mixing euthanasia and a health care system solely profit-driven can be dangerous with the vast economic differences among individuals in this country.  Euthanasia should not be legalized because people of lower class will be legally killed without having the desire to die in the first place.
           In the Netherlands, Euthanasia has been regulated by law since 2002.  Now, how exactly are the Dutch different? The Netherlands is a far more homogenous country with a unified health care system. A much higher percentage of citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to equal health care. In a survey conducted by the Journal of the National Medical Association, 500 residents of Detroit were interviewed on their support of euthanasia. While both white and black residents supported the idea, significantly less black supporters were recorded. Due to America’s long history of discrimination towards minorities, it seems that black citizens fear being considered, as one New York Times article put it, “throwaway people”. Although less of the black than white residents of Detroit supported Euthanasia, the total number of support was quite small compared to wealthier cities. According to research done by the Agency for Healthcare and Quality, disparities in health care are still very prevalent when it comes to economic status. Eighty percent of people of lower income receive less benefits than people of higher income. If a lethal prescription for euthanasia costs around three hundred dollars and if ability to sustain life costs tens of thousands of dollars, which choice is poor health insurance more likely to agree to cover?

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