Terminally ill Brittany Maynard plans to end her life under Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act. The practice is legal in only 5 states.
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Vermont is on its way to become the third state in the nation to allow doctor-assisted suicide after its legislature passed a bill which permits doctors to write prescriptions of lethal drugs for fatally ill patients. RT’s Margaret Howell has the details.
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All her life, Harriet Scott liked being in the driver’s seat. And so when her doctor told her she had a terminal case of liver cancer, she was determined to die on her own terms. But would the choice be taken away from her as the disease progressed?
California’s “right to die” law went into effect Thursday, making it legal for terminally ill residents to end their lives.
The law Gov. Jerry Brown signed in October is called the End of Life Option Act. It lets physicians provide lethal prescriptions to adults with terminal illnesses who have a life expectancy of six months or less.
“I think until anyone has walked a mile in my shoes and knows what they’re facing,” Brittany Maynard told “CBS This Morning.”
California’s law was inspired by Brittany Maynard, who after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer left the state — her home — and moved her family to Oregon in 2014 where she could legally end her life.
“No one should have to leave their home and community for peace of mind to escape suffering and plan for a gentle death,” Maynard said in a message to state legislators recorded before her death.
California is now the fifth state in the country to have legislation making physician assisted suicide legal.
It modeled its End of Life Option Act off of Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, which has been in effect for almost 20 years and requires the patient be able to self-administer the medication.
There are still many who object to the idea of physician-assisted suicide, including the American Medical Association, which is one of the nation’s largest physician group.
Its policy on the issue reads: “Instead of participating in assisted suicide, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life. Patients should not be abandoned once it is determined that cure is impossible.”
Similar aid-in-dying legislation has been introduced in many other states, including New York, Minnesota and Colorado.
This video includes clips from American Medical Association and images from Getty Images.
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You may have the right to control your own life, but what about your own death? This is a question facing several states across the U.S., including, most recently, Vermont and Montana.
While physician aid-in-dying, or assisted suicide, has been legal in Oregon for almost two decades and legal in Washington for almost five years, other states have proved resistant to the idea. Reason TV was on the scene as this legal and moral battle played out in a somewhat surprising place: Montana, where conservative Republicans dominate local politics.
“We have a certain tradition here, going back to frontier days, of saying there are certain areas the government ought to stay out of,” says Robert Connell, a Montana attorney who argued in the state’s landmark Supreme Court case, Baxter v. Montana.
Connell’s client, U.S. Marine veteran and retired trucker Robert Baxter, suffered from a terminal illness called lymphocytic leukemia and wanted the ability to take medication that would hasten his death and end his suffering. He died before Montana’s Supreme Court could even issue the Baxter decision, which recognized a constitutional right to assisted suicide for all Montanans.
But that was just the beginning of this fight. Watch the video above to hear from legislators attempting to overturn Baxter and criminalize physician aid-in-dying once and for all, doctors who’ve risked their practices to write lethal prescriptions for suffering patients, and an elderly California man who’s decided to take matters into his own hands whether the state likes it or not.
Approximately 9:30 minutes.
Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera by Paul Detrick, Tracy Oppenheimer, and Weissmueller.
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