Brittany Maynard has been making headlines since early October when she expressed her intent to die with dignity after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and given six months to live.
With Maynard’s story going viral, the topic of Dying with Dignity has been the topic of various conversations, especially on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
According to the Death with Dignity organization’s website, only three states have passed the Dying with Dignity Act (Oregon, Washington and Vermont), which makes it legal for terminally ill patients who have been given six months or less to live to be prescribed medication to end their own life on their own terms. After the coverage of Maynard’s story, more and more people agree that this should be something every state should offer to its residents.
Recorded on Oregon’s public health website, more than 1,000 people were prescribed the fatal medication since the law passed in 1997, and 752 of those patients died due to ingesting the medication. The most up-to-date statistics show that as of late January, 122 patients were given the prescription in Oregon alone.
Because California is one of the 47 states where the act has not been passed, Maynard, her newlywed husband and her family uprooted and moved to Oregon after a hard decision of choosing to forego treatment that could reduce her quality of life and to enjoy the time she had left without treatment. Maynard chose to end her life on Nov. 1 so that she could celebrate her husband’s birthday with him before taking the medication.
Considering how many patients are diagnosed with cancer and other incurable illnesses (roughly 8 million each year recorded by the Centers for Disease Con trol, reducing the amount of suffering that comes with treatment to extend life and allowing the patient to enjoy their limited amount of time is what Maynard was advocating for.
If each state passed the DWDA, friends and families would not have to watch day after day as their loved ones suffer from the illness that has now consumed their entire life. The patients would have the choice of whether or not they want to try treatments and fight the illness, or to say goodbye when they are ready to pass.
Maynard also argued that this choice is not a choice of suicide — she did not want to die — but because she was going to soon, she wanted to do it on her own terms. She was quoted during an interview with CNN saying, “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 died in her home in Oregon surrounded by her husband, her parents and her best friend on Nov. 2 after ending life on her own terms.