The term "right to die" is the idea that a person has the right to end their life or be voluntarily euthanized. In general, this refers to people with a terminal illness, such as cancer, and the belief that they should be able to end their life, turn down lifesaving treatments or move forward with assisted suicide if they so desire. This is a very controversial subject, as many people question the moral act of assisted suicide. Others have religious views that state that suicide is a sin. However, advocates of the idea of the "right to die" believe that people should be allowed to end their suffering if faced with a terminal illness.
Death with Dignity Laws
Death with dignity laws, known as physician-assisted dying or aid-in-dying laws, are "right to die" laws. They are born from the basic idea that it is the terminally ill person who should make their end-of-life decisions, not the government, politicians, or religious leaders and their ideologies. Death with dignity laws allow mentally competent adults who have a terminal illness of six months or fewer to live to voluntarily request and receive medication to hasten their passing. In the process, two physicians must confirm the patient's residency, diagnosis, prognosis, mental competence, and voluntariness of the request. Additionally, two waiting periods are required: one between the oral requests and the second between receiving and filling the prescription.
States with "Right to Die" Laws
As of 2021, there are just a handful of U.S. states with "right to die" laws. Those states are California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. In these states, it is legal for terminally ill patients to receive lethal medication from their doctors. In Montana, there is currently no death with dignity statute; however, the end-of-life option is legal through State Supreme Court ruling. In New Mexico, a judge ruled that patients have to receive a lethal dose of medication if they are terminally ill. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are also legal in other parts of the world, including New Zealand, Colombia, and the Netherlands.