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Viewpoints: Do you believe in the right to die?


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Viewpoints is a SpokaneFāVS feature where our writers respond to a weekly question. Readers are invited to participate by posting in the comment section below.

Diane Rehm’s new memoir, “On My Own,” about her husband’s decade-long struggle with Parkinson’s has brought the Right to Die question back into the limelight.

Rehm’s husband, John, asked his doctors to help him die, but in Maryland, physician-assisted suicide was illegal. He ultimately starved himself instead.

We asked FāVS writers where they stand on this ethical dilemma:

Where do you stand on the Right to Die issue?

Neal Schindler: OK for animals but not humans?

Neal Schindler
Neal Schindler

I recommend the documentary “How to Die in Oregon,” currently available on Netflix. It’s a beautiful film about the state’s death-with-dignity law and some of the people who make use of it. To me, it’s bizarre that our society uses euthanasia to end animals’ suffering but many people don’t want humans to be able to do the same. Autonomy is such a fundamental American value, yet when it comes to making a thoughtful decision about ending one’s own suffering, so many Americans become squeamish.

Perhaps it has something to do with the deceptive slippery-slope argument that legalizing death with dignity will suddenly enable greedy adult children to convince their aging parents to off themselves — that sort of Chicken Little thinking. Again, a look at the documentary I mentioned above puts the lie to many of the outrageous propagandized statements about euthanasia.

Readers, chime in! How would you answer this week’s Viewpoints question?

Tracy Simmons
Tracy Simmons
Tracy Simmons is an award-winning journalist specializing in religion reporting and digital entrepreneurship. In her approximate 20 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti. Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas, Connecticut and Washington. She is the executive director of FāVS.News, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Washington. She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and national publications. She is a Scholarly Assistant Professor of Journalism at Washington State University.

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