Kelly Spencer, Copy Editor
Brittany Maynard passed away this past Saturday at the age of 29 by physician-assisted suicide in her Oregon home. Maynard is one of only six people to have received the right to choose their own death under the age of 35 in the state. Oregon is one of five states to provide aid in assisted death, along with Washington, Vermont, Montana and New Mexico.
Maynard moved from her home in California in order to be eligible for Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act after being diagnosed with terminal glioblastoma; a brain tumor rendering her with six months to live. Deathwithdignity.org states, “These laws allow mentally competent, terminally ill adult state residents to voluntarily request and receive a prescription medication to hasten their death.”
During the last months of her life, Maynard became a passionate advocate for Compassion and Choices, the largest organization promoting the expansion of options for the terminally ill at the end of their lives as well as the implementation of Death with Dignity Acts in all states. The publicity Maynard received working with the group has resparked the long-argued debate on assisted-suicide in the United States.
Over the last few decades, there have been many accounts of arrests of people who illegally participated in assisted suicide, most of which were family members attempting to fulfill the final wish of their sick loved ones. At the beginning of this year, Barbara Mancini, a 58-year-old nurse from Pennsylvania, was finally acquitted of an assisted-suicide case she had been battling for over a year involving her elderly father. Mancini was accused of providing her father with a lethal dose of his morphine prescription. While she did hand the bottle to her father, she wasn’t aware he was going to take all of it and claims he never made any remarks eluding to suicide. His living will stated he did not wish to be resuscitated. However when hospice arrived, they insisted Mancini’s father be brought to the ER. He died in the hospital four days later. NBC reported Mancini as saying, “I think, in time, I’ll be able to move on from this, but he doesn’t get to do over his death. He will always have had a horrible, painful death. And there’s nothing I can do about it.” This was the reason Brittany Maynard chose to move to Oregon– to be able to control the quality of her own life and that of her family’s.
In the weeks before her death, Brittany Maynard explained in her Op-Ed for CNN, “I would not tell anyone else that he or she should choose death with dignity. My question is: Who has the right to tell me that I don’t deserve this choice? That I deserve to suffer for weeks or months in tremendous amounts of physical and emotional pain? Why should anyone have the right to make that choice for me?”
Maynard concluded with what having the option of death with dignity meant to her; “Having this choice at the end of my life has become incredibly important. It has given me a sense of peace during a tumultuous time…”
Maynard’s passing will undoubtedly ignite conversations in the 45 remaining states without end of life options.