Monday, June 10, 2013

Death with Dignity?

Hats off to my Netflix on Demand and the Brooklyn Public Library, once again.
    I'm quite sure that I've developed an addiction to gobbling up television shows, films, documentaries, etcetera, spanning across all decades and genres. If I've heard about it, read about it somewhere, or am stumbling upon a title for the first time, I need to see it. Neeeeed. Riveting. I feel that I am doing myself an incredible favor by viewing mind-expanding, culturally or socially significant, or at the very least, entertaining segments.

On my mind:
"How to Die in Oregon"
(Clearcut Productions)
death with dignity, death with dignity documentary death film, death with dignity movie, heavy documentary, death doc, documentaries that make you think, peter richardson documentary, peter richardson director, assisted suicide, girls with brains, girls with intelligence, think about thisFilm Stats:
-2011 documentary produced and directed by Peter Richardson, exploring Oregon state's Death with Dignity Act and Washington state's process of passing similar laws.
-Death with Dignity laws "allow a terminally ill, mentally competent adult the right to request and receive a prescription to hasten death under certain specific safeguards." (DeathwithDignity.Org)
-Released at and Won the Grand Jury Prize for documentaries at the 27th Sundance Film Festival in 2011.  
-Currently, only in the states of Washington and Oregon, is this end-of-life care option available, and legal-I might add-to terminally ill, mentally competent adults.  
 -One must be both terminally ill and mentally competent in order to apply for this prescription.

Alright, well, although I typically don't like to tackle highly-charged and fiercely-emotional debates online, I'm going to bring up this issue up for you to mull over:

Physician-assisted/self-administered death....
or, as the media refers to it and most of the country knows it by...
"assisted suicide" 
By the way, according to the film and the Death with Dignity National Center, the term "suicide" does not best reflect what they defend and advocate.
This documentary captivated me. I can't stop thinking about it. I'm not sure if I'd really ever sat and considered all angles of this. In the past, I'd seen stories on the news and had been appalled not necessarily with the people who wished to die by this manner, but more so, at the people who assisted them. "How to Die in Oregon", over the course of four years, looks death and the entire process of dying straight in the face. It's difficult to continue through the film because of this. But, if nothing else, it educated me on these "Death with Dignity" laws and on the entire concept of physician assisted and/or self-administered death. I might have been a bit hasty in my judgment beforehand, brushing this issue off simply by what I'd thought...more accurately, assumed... it all meant, and more so, by how its been portrayed by others, and more so, by media outlets. "How to Die in Oregon" literally shows us the humanity in this issue, following terminally-ill patients in their day-to-day lives and their decision for or against "death with dignity" as well as those who promote and work for the organizations that aid them. 
After seeing loved ones, first-hand, suffer and struggle through their last days, miserable and almost begging for mercy from the pain of their everyday lives, I do sympathize with and recognize their wish to pass on from their current state. To let go. To be let go. To be released from their physical bodies that are slowly giving out.
I don't know how I'd feel if someone I loved opted for this "death with dignity" conclusion to their life. I'd be hurt. Devastated. But, many of the individuals in the film defended their decision by stating that it gave them back control over their lives, when they continually felt like a victim, a hostage, a prisoner of their own diseases and current quality of life. They felt it allowed them to properly say goodbye to friends and family, and to be released, peacefully, on their own terms.

Let's chock it up to that now, I feel so much more understanding. I feel empathy for all sides of this issue. I do not vehemently oppose it. I also don't think we should or can legally deny a mentally competent person's right to choose this method...nor should we punish those who aid them, if administered under the legal specifications. Open mind, open heart. It's all so painful. I could go on, considering my mind is reeling due to the fresh nature of my viewing.
So, I leave you with
Two things--
  • Think about this.
    Start with your initial reaction and then do some research. Start here on the Oregon.Gov site as well as gain some insight into the mission of the Death with Dignity Organization here. Think more.
  • Watch the film.
    If you have Netflix, you owe it to yourself. If you don't, you can watch it online for $2.99 HERE--Yes, I do all of the legwork for you. What's your excuse now?
No matter where you stand, I can attest to the power of curiosity and the pursuit of expanding your knowledge and experiences.
Feed your brain, and figure out where you fall.
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