Brittany’s Choice: The Everlong Debate Over Assisted Suicide

assisted suicide

Brittany Maynard, Advocate for the Death With Dignity act, died in her home on Saturday. Though her death was a suicide, it was on her terms and her time, after she had lived out her bucket list and decided to die before her fatal brain tumor got the best of her. This is the choice that many people in the states, other than Oregon, are pushing for, as they believe that assisted suicide could help more people die with dignity, rather than be sufferers at the hands of killer tumors, life threatening illness, and severe reductions of quality of life. Though this debate over whether assisted suicide should be allowed or not has been around since the creation of major healthcare, many fought to take away Brittany’s choice but were unsuccessful as she left this world in the way that she chose, regardless of public opinion.

Brittany Maynard suffered from a brain tumor, for which she was diagnosed at the age of 29. She was told that the tumor was fatal and given a time limit of about six months. She suffered from many severe symptoms, many of which reduced her quality of life, and from the time she was diagnosed she did not want to let the tumor control her life. It was at that time that Brittany made a choice to take matters into her own hands and die with dignity, before the suffering got the best of her. According to her family, she made a list of final moments that she wanted to experience and when she was done she decided to end her life. A spokeswoman from Compassion & Choices stated that she had many impairing symptoms and they supported her decision. Compassion & Choices is a non-profit group that is working to help expand end-of-life options for those who wish to take the most dignified way out.

A law in Oregon, known as the Oregon Death With Dignity Act, gave Brittany Maynard the right to choose how she died. According to the act Brittany Maynard was given an “aid-in-dying” medication when her symptoms became more severe and, several months later, she chose to take those medications. According to sources, she died peacefully in her bedroom, surrounded by loved ones, as she took a lethal mix of sedatives and respiratory-system depressants.

According to sources, Brittany Maynard and her family had previously lived in California but moved to Oregon after Maynard’s diagnosis in order to allow her what media called Brittany’s Choice. Under the law in Oregon physicians can provide critically ill patients with medications to assist them in “dieing with dignity.” Because of the widespread debate over whether physician assisted suicide is right or wrong, Brittany had to leave her home. According to an obituary posted on her website Brittany wanted the same option in California, where she lived, but the option was not available.

Only five states currently allow assisted suicide to patients who are terminal. New Mexico, Vermont, Montana, Washington, and Oregon are currently supporters of the dignified death option, stating that patients have the right to assisted suicide. Though the battle continues on in all other states, none of them have joined in. Families with terminally ill loved ones, like the family of Brittany Maynard, are hoping that the debate will end soon. Since 1997, 752 people have used the assisted suicide option in Oregon. Brittany Maynard’s final Facebook post stated that if she did not have the option to face death with dignity her disease which took so much from her, “would have taken so much more.”

By Crystal Boulware

Sources:

Vox
NBC News
The Daily Beast

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