Should assisted suicide be legal for those who are terminally ill?

A former Minnesota nurse on Wednesday was sentenced to jail for assisting and attempting to assist a suicide, MPR reports.

Rice County District Judge Thomas Neuville ruled that the state proved that William Melchert-Dinkel, 52, of Faribault, assisted in the suicide of Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England.

He said the state failed to prove Melchert-Dinkel’s assistance was a direct cause of the suicide of Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario, but found him guilty on a lesser charge of attempting to help her take her life, MPR reported earlier this week.

In this case Melchert-Dinkel posed as a female suicide nurse and encouraged depressed individuals online to commit suicide, MPR reported. Assisted suicide typically refers to when a person who is terminally ill asks a physician for a way to end their life.

Assisted suicide is currently illegal in Minnesota, as well as most states. Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington are the only states that allow assisted suicide, according to ProCon. For the most part, each of these states has strict regulations for when a doctor can legally help.

Brittany Maynard, 29, who is currently suffering from brain cancer, decided that she would like to use death with dignity to end her life. She explains in an opinion article she wrote for CNN:

[Death with dignity] is an end-of-life option for mentally competent, terminally ill patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live. It would enable me to use the medical practice of aid in dying: I could request and receive a prescription from a physician for medication that I could self-ingest to end my dying process if it becomes unbearable.

She also adds:

Having this choice at the end of my life has become incredibly important. It has given me a sense of peace during a tumultuous time that otherwise would be dominated by fear, uncertainty and pain.

This has caused a huge discussion on the internet. One particular critique is Kara Tippets, a mother, wife and Christian who is fighting breast cancer. She wrote a letter to Brittany urging her not to take the pill that will end her life.

Dear heart, we simply disagree. Suffering is not the absence of goodness, it is not the absence of beauty, but perhaps it can be the place where true beauty can be known.

In your choosing your own death, you are robbing those that love you with the such tenderness, the opportunity of meeting you in your last moments and extending you love in your last breaths.

Today’s Question: Should assisted suicide be legal for those who are terminally ill?