Marsel Gray | Staff Writer

Would you agree with the idea that your life and your body are your own? That all the choices are yours to make and no one else’s? But what about the decision to end your life? I’m not taking about irrational suicide, but the similar topic of the right to die.

The idea itself is layered with ethical questions. Who should be allowed to make the decisions? Should it only apply to a person with a terminal illness? How should they go about completing such a task?

For the purposes of this article, take the topic to refer to a sound-minded person with a terminal illness. There already exists some allowance for the right to die in the form of legal documents, such as living wills and “do not resuscitate” orders.

The Supreme Court has already ruled once on the issue. In the 1990 trial, Cruzan v. Director, the Missouri Department of Health favored the removal of life support. It drew on the matter that competent persons possess the right to refuse medical attention under clauses in the Fourteenth Amendment.

The clause in particular states, “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property.” In 2005, the right to die became a political hurricane when Terri Schiavo’s case came to national attention. The battle between Schiavo’s husband and parents centered over whether or not Schiavo should be left in her vegetative state or painlessly die.

The argument against the right to die is heavily fought with moral, religious and ethical debate. Lots of religious debate exists around the idea that the time of death is to be decided by a higher power.

This movement argues that individuals should always strive to live and, “not give up.” They maintain a spiritual momentum that there should always be hope given to a person’s situation. However, for many, the idea of suffering in pain and having their bodies deteriorate frightens them.

Naturally, people want an out and the options exist. Since a person’s body is their own property, it is their decision to make and no one else’s.

As long as the person has a sound mental state, then the choice remains theirs to make. As author Chuck Palahniuk once said, “you have a choice. Live or die. Every breath is a choice. Every minute is a choice. To be or not to be.” TAS