Brittany has chosen to be the determiner of when and how she will die. She has a terminal and incurable form of brain cancer. The normal progression of the illness would be slow and very painful. She and her husband moved to Oregon to take advantage of the state’s Death With Dignity Act (DWDA). The law allows” terminally ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose.” To qualify, a person must be deemed mentally competent and a resident of Oregon. Brittany and her husband moved to Oregon to qualify for this option.
Photo courtesy of the Brittany Maynard Fund.
And I’m grateful that we have other states that allow people the choice to die with dignity. I know this is a charged topic, but I would do the same as Brittany. My mother has put a clause in her will that states she not be kept alive with machines. My brother and I have the legal right to ensure she not be kept alive simply by machines.
Brittany and Compassion and Choices have partnered to promote choice for more people with the Brittany Maynard Fund. On the site, you can read Brittany’s words and more background on her life, this decision and the dignity movement. The key is to offer the choice. No one is forcing people to die this way. The movement simply wants to offer people a choice through education, removing the fear and stigma, and adding supportive laws. Advocates of DWDA, strongly reject the idea that this is suicide. As Brittany and others have clearly stated, they would love to live, but they can’t, so they choose DWD as a means to reduce suffering and have some measure of control.
Here is another thoughtful reflection on the topic by Joanna Rothkopf of Salon magazine. It seems timely that I just watched the movie You Don’t Know Jack. The movie chronicles the story of Dr. Jack Kevorkian who famously facilitated suicide for his patients who wanted to end their suffering and was ultimately sent to prison for his actions. Polling suggests 70% of the population support aid for dying.
Would you choose death with dignity, fight it to the end, surrender to the process, or maybe use the condition as a spiritual practice? Personally, I’m grateful that more people are being offered the choice of death with dignity. And I’m very grateful for my current health and choices.
What do you think about assisted death? I’d love to hear your views in the comments below.