Catholics are vehemently against “right to die” legislation, and I am… well, actively for it.
They are most frequently called “death with dignity laws”, and I believe that they are exactly that. They are laws that allow certain terminally-ill adults to voluntarily request and receive prescription medication that they can, completely of their own accord (and it has to be them doing this), ingest to hasten their death when they feel that it is the right time to do so. By discussing their wishes with their physician as early in their diagnosis as possible, when they have a serious diagnosis that may warrant the possibility of this becoming something that can be considered, they can find out that their physician is amenable to this or begin to switch to a physician that is amenable to this (a process that takes time). Some state laws require that you have a conversation about this with your physician in person, and more than one conversation about it to show that you have given this the proper consideration and have absolutely committed to it.
Death with dignity laws allow individuals to avoid unneeded pain and suffering at the end of their lives. They allow them to live with maximal quality, exhaust all of the reasonable options that their diagnosis allows them to go through, and does not allow them to linger on in pain and suffering when these options have been maximally exhausted, “just waiting to die”. It allows them to choose the time that they will pass, allowing family, friends, and loved ones to be around when they pass. Most state laws require that the diagnosis for this be terminal and that the patient be expected to live six months or less with this diagnosis. The individual in question themselves has to request that their physician write the prescription that, when ingested, will allow them to pass (this constitutes the “first request” made). Most states also require that a second request be made a certain number of days from the time that the first request is made, and then if the physician is willing to write the prescription, it can be sent to the pharmacy in accordance to state law.
Many patients actually do not wind up ingesting the medication that they have available to them, but simply having it available to ingest should the time comes is of great comfort to them. But many of them do. Several state laws in the United States require that the patient alone voluntarily consume the medication (that they not be assisted in any way, shape, or form in doing so, to include lifting the medication to their mouth to consume, or in any other way be assisted in consuming the medication, to ensure that their consumption of the medication is completely voluntary on their parts). It also has to be consumed within a fairly strict time frame to have the intended time effect of easing the individual’s ascent into death, or they do not function.
I am an extremely vehement supporter of these laws and not allowing terminally ill, competent individuals who want to make these decisions for themselves to suffer any longer than they must. I do not believe that anyone’s faith or religion should attempt to prohibit this decision from being made for… er, obvious reasons.