A lot of folks have probably seen it by now…the articles detailing the tragic fate of a newlywed 29-year-old who’s currently battling stage 4 of an aggressive brain cancer and has limited time left to live. She posted a video explaining why, on November 1 of this year, she will end her own life using medicine prescribed by a doctor, effectively giving her a peaceful and painless exit of this life. Her other option is to endure what could be months of tragic pain and suffering and in her words, ‘dignity is less terrifying’.
Who could blame her? Not a single soul will admit that they ever want to see a loved one suffer and end-of-life care is generally hardest on surrounding family members and caregivers. She and her family moved to Oregon at the beginning of the year because Oregon is the only state currently with a ‘Death with Dignity Act’, allowing assisted suicide.
I’m not sure if it’s the graceful photos of her on her wedding day in a beautiful dress with her new husband, the glimpses of what her happy life should look like, or if it’s the tone of her message but the story seems to be resonating with folks across political spectrums and into all walks of life.
Studies, polls, and conversation alike will show that many Americans are still wary of assisted suicide, but more willing than you would think. After all, it’s only legal in FOUR state in the United States and the circumstantial laws are so strict that in states like Oregon, only 750 people have ‘used’ the method (since 1997) as a means of ending their own life. As a society, we grieve for those who fall victim to suicide but we also condemn it. (By this, I mean we condemn the act to those before suffering. We are brought up to reach out to those in pain, but that is because it is viewed as wrong.) The taking of one’s own life in most faithful circles is sin, and we’ve seen a tremendous resistance to removing conventional, faith-based societal norms in exchange for more tolerance and acceptance in culture today.
So why are people not completely appalled by this idea this time around? Some say it’s based on how it’s described. Are they so numb to the concept as a whole that they don’t see it for what it is? Are people accepting of it ‘just this once’? Or has the sensitivity, the pain in the tone of the story and the humanity of it all brought about a different perspective? And where does humanity take us in legislating morality, because this is a moral debate.
I think we already know…