A recent attempt to allow terminally ill people to engage in physician assisted suicide (right to die) has stalled in the legislative process due to pressure from various religious groups. A change in policy seems to be evolving. The California Medical Association, which for years had opposed such legislation, has now changed its stance. This raises the question, “should those who are terminally ill have the right to end their pain and suffering?” Science now seems to be on board with this decision. The opposition is coming from the religious community.

If a person has been given the diagnosis that they have a terminal condition, should they have the ability to say “I have had enough pain, expense, etc.” and do not want to engage in this any longer?  Adequate safeguards can be built into legislation to ensure that people who are not competent to make their own decisions, should not be allowed to terminate their lives. However, if a person is competent, should they be allowed to forego the pain to themselves and their loved ones to end suffering more quickly? While everyone understands that God may be or is (depending on your view) the ultimate judge, can this process be amended to comport with the suffering of a person facing this heavy burden? Should we have a uniform standard throughout the country, or should we have legislative chaos with each state being allowed to set whatever standards they feel is appropriate.

Should the terminally ill be forced to move from one state to another to find a forum that is friendly to allow them to end their suffering? Will this lead to assisted suicide travel wherein terminally ill patients go from states without physician assisted suicide to states with assisted suicide in order to end their suffering? Is this fair to the person and loved ones affected?

The Constitution gives people the right “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, should it not extend to ending their lives as well?”