A Step In The Right to Die

Aja Riggs has been ill with cancer and been given a terminal diagnosis. Lately it’s been too much and she wants to be able to die, so she had to sue for the right. She just won her case in New Mexico where the judge ruled that terminally ill patients like Riggs have the right to “aid in dying” under the state constitution, and that such cases are not considered assisted suicides. “Aid in dying” means that doctors can prescribe a dose large enough so that as the judge described it, “a patient can have a peaceful death and thereby avoid suffering”. In her ruling, she also said that the court could not envision a right more fundamental, more private and more integral to the liberty, safety and happiness of a New Mexican. It’s not a ruling with big waves, and it may be appealed, but in tandem with laws in Oregon, Washington and Vermont that allow aid in dying and Montana and Hawaii which have no laws against assisted suicide, it begins to entrench the idea of the right to die as separate from the notion of suicide. Suicide is laden with numerous pre-conceived notions, and stems from a variety of motivations, some of which are defensible and valid, but which still cloud the aid in dying issue. The right to die is more basic. In the same way that we choose how we live, there are times when we ought to choose how we die.