Is There a Right to Die?

wills, trusts, medicaid attorneyFive states in the United States recognize the right to die. In those five states, terminally ill patients can be helped to end their lives. The right to die has been referred to by the negative term “assisted suicide.” However, the new movement to help sick, frail, suffering parents end their lives is referred to as “aid in dying.” The aid in dying movement is growing in various parts of the United States.

In a recent Gallup poll conducted in May 2013, seventy percent of the individuals polled agreed that when a patient and/or their family requested it (referring to a terminally ill patient), doctors should be allowed to “end the patient’s life by some painless means.” This is a significant change in public opinion. In 1948, only thirty-seven percent of individuals polled would have agreed to end the patient’s life.

Compassion for the Elderly

There is an organization called Compassion and Choices. They receive thousands of inquiries each year with regard to legal means of dealing with end of life suffering issues. The organization takes the position providing a dying patient with an opportunity for a peaceful and dignified death is not assisted suicide. The issue, simply stated is, do patients have a right to die with dignity? Can the patient decide when he or she is prepared to die? This is a vexing and problematic issue which is impacted on by organized religion, social mores and the negative connotation of suicide.

estate planning assistance for seniorsElliot Schlissel is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been representing clients with regard to estate planning matters, probating of wills, and drafting wills and trusts for his clients throughout the Metropolitan New York area for more than 45 years.