Should Tennessee legalize physician assisted death?

Johnson City Press • Dec 2, 2018 at 5:22 PM

As reported by Johnson City Press journalist Brandon Paykamian last week, a panel at East Tennessee State University explored the morality and ethics of physician-assisted deaths for terminally ill patients.

It involves death by means other than the strictly natural, and the debate about the practice generally involves discussions about patients’ rights and the potential for medical advancements to change the lethality of illnesses now considered terminal, but other objections have been raised by practitioners of certain religions.

ETSU researcher Erin Mauck conducted a study two years ago that suggested people who reported being religious were significantly more likely to oppose physician-assisted death. Mauck was the facilitator of the forum last week, and said she has been an advocate of its legalization for years.

Physician-assisted death is legal in eight jurisdictions — California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Tennessee has a law forbidding its practice.

Two legislators, state Sen. John Lundberg and U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, both opposed its legality at the panel. Lundberg said enacting “right-to-die” legislation could be a “slippery slope.” He and Roe both said medical advances have changed what diseases are terminal just in the last few decades.

Advocates, however, say forbidding patients who know they will soon die from seeking the assistance of a doctor to dictate their own deaths removes their agency.

It’s an issue that raises important questions about patients’ rights, but it also seems to stir emotions, as well. That why we want to hear from you.

Should Tennessee legalize physician-assisted death? Why are you opposed or do you favor its legality?

Send your correspondence to [email protected]. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length.

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