I think more states should pass laws legalizing physician assisted suicide for competent, terminally ill patients. I believe that terminally ill patients should have the right to end their suffering in a humane way. For those who argue they could end their lives, without the aid of a physician—while that is true, suicide often negates insurance policies. In the states that have legalized physician assisted suicide, measures have similarly been taken to disallow those insurance policies from being voided by the act.
There are currently only five states who have legalized it thus far: California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Vermont. Each of these states requires the patient to demonstrate competency in communicating their needs and wishes to healthcare workers. Patients must also be 18 years of age or older as well as a resident of that state. They also must be diagnosed with a terminal illness that doctors estimate will lead to their death within six months. Most of the states follow the same protocol for processing the patient’s request; the patient must make two verbal requests for physician assisted suicide, with a minimum of 15 days between requests, provide a written request, and then wait an additional 2 days before the patient him/herself is able to pick up the prescription from the pharmacy.
With the safeguards above in place, as well as further legal protections for physicians, pharmacists, healthcare systems, and patients, physician assisted suicide seems to be an ethical option for helping terminally ill patients. It grants these patients, many of whom endure an incredible amount of physical pain, to say nothing of the mental anguish, the choice to be free of that suffering. Ethics of physician assisted suicide can, and will, be argued; but it seems unethical to take that decision away from the patients themselves.