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  • The Right-To-Die MovementHealthy dying” has become a more prominent issue in the U.S., especially when the New York Times published an article about a woman named Jo Roman, a 62-year-old artist with terminal cancer who took her own life with an overdose of medication after gathering close friends around her for a celebration prior to her farewell passage, (Zanden, Crandell, & Crandell, 2007, p. 650). Then, Dr. Jack Kevorkian began to help people with terminal illness end their lives. And most recently the disputes in the Terri Schindler-Schiavo case became headline news in 2005. “As the technology to keep people alive continues to improve, the ethical issues about active euthanasia in general and physician-assisted suicide in particular will continue to become more complex and will likely focus increasingly on the quality of life ” (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2016, p. 558).Read pages 555-559 in your text.“Taking one’s own life through ritual suicide has never been popular in the United States because of religious and other prohibitions. In other cultures, such as Japan, suicide is viewed as an honorable way to die under certain circumstances. Asian Americans have the highest suicide rate in the US, and their suicide notes are likely to reveal that they considered themselves a burden on their families,” (Pascual, 2010 in Kail & Cavanaugh, 2016, p. 557).In 1984, the Dutch Supreme Court eliminated prosecution of physicians who assist in suicide if five criteria are met:
    1. The patient’s condition is intolerable with no hope for improvement.
    2. No relief is available.
    3. The patient is competent.
    4. The patient makes a request repeatedly over time.
    5. Two physicians have reviewed the case and agree with the patient’s request.
      (Deutsch, 2001 in Kail & Cavanaugh, 2016, p. 557).

    In preparing for this discussion please also consider the following additional facts:

    • In Australia, the Northern Territory became the first state in the world to legalize voluntary active euthanasia under the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act of 1995. However, in 1997 their Federal Parliament overturned this legislation.
    • In the Netherlands, euthanasia has been legalized by the Dutch Parliament since 2001.
    • In 2002, Belgium also legalized physician-assisted suicide.
    • In the U.S., Oregon residents passed the Death with Dignity Act legalizing physician-assisted suicide in 1994.

    Discussion questions:

    • Do you think people have a right to die if they are in great pain and diagnosed with a terminal illness?
    • What is the difference between euthanasia and physician assisted suicide?
    • Should euthanasia be legal or illegal?
    • Should physician-assisted suicide be legal or illegal?