The U.S. has come a long way since the days when Dr. Jack Kevorkian was prosecuted for assisting terminally ill patients commit suicide. At that time, he was popularly viewed as a monster in the media.
He, however, may have ultimately won the war.
Americans have gradually come around to the view that terminally ill people have the right to end their lives when they want to and under the circumstances they choose. For some time now, polls have consistently suggested that more than 60% of Americans believe a physician should be able to help a willing terminally ill patient pass away.
Laws allowing it, have been much slower to pass.
20% of Americans will soon be living in states that allow the practice, as The New York Times reports in "Physician Aid in Dying Gains Acceptance."
Given the popularity of the idea, it seems likely that even more states will soon allow the practice. That raises new challenges for the elderly, their families and for elder law advocates.
Families will need to consider things previously unconsidered, such as when it is appropriate for a family member to choose to pass away.
Advocates will need to make sure that laws and regulations are designed with appropriate protections for patients and doctors.
Reference: New York Times (Jan. 16, 2017) "Physician Aid in Dying Gains Acceptance."