Movies You May Have Missed: How to Die in Oregon (2011)



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There is no question that this particular subject is a heavy one. Physician-assisted suicide is a complicated issue. Well, complicated for some, simple for others. While the topic at its core is highly unique it is not immune to the same scrutiny and argumentative discussions that plague everything from marijuana legalization to same-sex marriage. Each side of the so-called coin are adamant about their stance on whatever subject is at hand. As someone who believes in absolute separation of church and state, religion is of course at the forefront of why legally aided suicide should be illegal; I think anyone that uses religion for political issues should stay the hell out of the argument. Certain people of course spin and contort the issue for their own skewed opinion of what should and shouldn’t be. Never mind the fact that they are trying to shove THEIR beliefs onto others regardless of their ailing condition.

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At one point in the documentary a man of religious background stated his reasoning for opposition of a proposed bill that would allow physician-assisted suicide and his reason was this: He believed that state-assisted suicide should never be an option when other avenues are available. It was a prime example of someone arguing about something they had no clue what exactly was being proposed. In the state of Washington where this bill was on the ballot was to be a last resort for someone who either a) had no further medical options left or b) simply could not afford the astronomical financial burden their prolonged treatment would inevitably create for their loved ones and were of course suffering. It was infuriating to listen this man spout off utter bullshit simply because he didn’t agree with something so no one else should be allowed. If you don’t believe in something then don’t do it or partake in it (whatever IT is) but don’t put the kibosh on it for everyone, everywhere who do believe in it (again, whatever IT is). It is yet another topic that involves a group of people (both religious and not) that think they have some right to dictate what others do with their own lives. I’m just some asshole typing on a keyboard but I know without question one particular thing when it comes to things like this… you ready? You DO NOT have the right to dictate other’s lives. Period. Sorry to shatter your egocentric lifestyle but you don’t and no amount of pouting and rolling around on the floor and pounding your fists will change that fact (yes, FACT).

Now I agree that options should be sought out first that could potentially help a person in medical need. It shouldn’t ever be used for a depressed person who thinks they have nothing to live for. But someone who is diagnosed with an incurable, inoperable illness should be able to go out on their own terms should they choose to do so. Many of their choices involve taking their life or striving for more time alive but most times that extra bit of life will not only be short (a few months at most in some cases) but filled with unimaginable pain and suffering. Not to mention the complete loss of dignity.

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We take for granted when we enter and leave a restroom unassisted; it never crosses our minds that one day, possibly, we won’t be able. The ability to walk and take care of ourselves is a gift bestowed upon us that can be taken away without warning. Suddenly independence is a distant memory that you look back on fondly as someone else wipes your ass. Dignity is something we all hold dear and to lose it simply because someone else doesn’t agree with something that would help is cruel. It must not be forgotten that people who are given the option of physician-assisted suicide have no other legitimate options. They have a set amount of time left and chances are as that check-out date nears their condition will worsen. All the bill says is that someone, anyone in the right circumstances should have complete control of their own lives even when that life is ending. To die comfortably in your own bed having said your goodbyes to loved ones is priceless. To die bedridden with tubes and bedpans is miserable.

This documentary is powerful. It is heart-wrenching and infuriating. Whether you agree with physician-assisted suicide or not there is no denying that this film is eye-opening. There are people out there who are suffering and an option to end that pain is being proposed as it should be. I want to die peacefully with family around me and if that option should be possible by my own decision then so be it and anyone that disagrees be damned. If I am ever put into such a situation I want the choice, that’s all anyone is asking for, choice.

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As informative as the film is I feel I must warn anyone interested in watching it. It WILL make you cry. I very rarely cry from watching a film but I’m not too proud to admit that as I watched this, a few tears were shed. It’s inevitable so be prepared. For anyone that might steer away because of this I want just want to say that it’s okay to cry when watching it, it means you’re a human being. Embrace it.

Now available on Netflix.
Run Time: 107 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Documentary, Drama, Family
Directed By: Peter Richardson

Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 5 Nerdskulls

Check out the trailer below:

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Chase Gifford

"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world"-Jean-Luc Godard