Right to Die
“Right to die” refers to various issues related to the decision of whether an individual should be allowed to die, when s/he could continue to live with the aid of life support, or in a diminished or enfeebled capacity. It also refers to the idea that a person with a terminal illness should be allowed to commit suicide before death occurs or should have the right to refuse to have his/her life extended by artificial or heroic means. This may be done by withdrawal of feeding tubes and other artificial means of life support from a terminally ill person. The concept of “right to die” is often referred to as dying with dignity.
A patient’s treatment decision can be made known ahead of time by executing a living will or a Do Not Resuscitate order. Usually patients exercising the “right to die” will have also made explicit their wish to receive only palliative care to reduce pain and suffering.