Some would say nursing is a profession, but to me, it’s a passion. As a registered nurse, it is my duty and obligation to be a patient advocate. In 2018, an estimated 79,890 people were diagnosed with cancer in Pennsylvania. Of those, an estimated 28,170 people lost their battle to the second leading cause of death (Department of Health, 2019). Death with dignity allows mentally competent adult state residents, who were diagnosed with terminal illnesses with a confirmed prognosis of having six or fewer months to live, voluntarily request and receive a prescription medication to hasten their inevitable death.
Autonomy is defined as the right or condition of self-government. Therefore, every individual has the ability to freely make his or her own choices, even if they never opt to exercise that choice. In addition, there are a total of six states and Washington, D.C., who have death with dignity statutes (Liz Szabo, Washington Post, 2016). In the 2017 legislative session, the General Assembly considered a death with dignity bill, SB 238, called the Pennsylvania Death With Dignity Act; however, it never received a hearing.
By letting individuals exercise their autonomy on how to face a terminal diagnosis, we allow suffering individuals the option to choose to die in a dignified, competent manner.