Ethical Issues in End-of-Life Care
The “right-to-die movement,” is rooted in ideas of classical Greece and gained momentum from the rights-based culture of the sixties. It has since become a more prominent movement due to a expansion of life-prolonging technologies that alter the dying process as well as evolving patterns of disease burden and mortality included (but not limited to) the HIV/AIDS pandemic, whose many faces have forced us to re-imagine inevitable death and suffering. Recently,Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman from California with terminal brain cancer, ended her life with physician prescribed medications. Currently, only five states in the United States authorize death with dignity, including Oregon, where Maynard and her family moved. However, her decision has prompted both support and criticism of aid-in-dying. The Vatican official Ignacio Carrasco de Paula condemns assisted suicide and calls Brittany Maynard’s act ‘reprehensible,’ although Brittany was not a Catholic. He is a bioethicist who heads the Pontifical Academy for Life, defines dignity as “something other than putting an end to one’s own life.” He clarifies that it is the act— not the person— that is to be condemned.
Who has the right to tell people that they should not embrace tye choice to end their lives? Should anyone have the right to make that choice for Brittany? What other arguments are compelling?