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By Br. Montie Chavez

SAN ANTONIO—The last thing most college students want to think about is death. Death is a part of life. But what does that mean for someone who is terminally ill and suffering? Physician assisted suicide is one of many ethical and controversial topics being talked about today.

According to Palliative Care physician Dr. Natalie Rodden, M.D., “Physician assisted suicide is when, a patient who meets certain criteria with terminal illness, in some states where legal, a physician is able to prescribe a lethal dose of medicine. The patient or their family members would then take this medication and it would be a intentional overdose that would be lethal.”

As a palliative care physician, Rodden helps patients not just at the end of life, but at any stage of illness or any age in life by providing a support system and improving patients’ quality of life through an interdisciplinary approach of looking at the physical, mental and spiritual needs of each patient.

Our Lady of the Lake students have various thoughts on the controversial topic and whether it should be allowed or not.

“I don’t have a problem with it. I think if people want to end their life in a dignified manner, they should be allowed to.” Senior Cody Proxmire said. “It is a way for a family to get closure, that they wouldn’t get before. A lot of people that die, they never get to say goodbye to their families.”

“Assisted suicide is a very extremely controversial topic because there are some instances in which a person is terminally ill and is suffering in pain. But I don’t think it is right to help someone kill themselves, it’s pretty complicated.” Senior Jessica Sanchez said.

According to Rodden, “People think most patients that request physician assisted suicide are experiencing uncontrolled pain. Actually it’s not. It is more of what we call existential distress, or feel they are a burden to their loved ones, or loose a sense of meaning in their life. Palliative care is one option  to help restore meaning in one’s life.”

Physician assisted suicide is legal in five states, Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington and Vermont.

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