November 2, 2014

Brittany Maynard, face of right-to-die movement, died as she planned

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cover-768-480x640(RNS) Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old suffering with an aggressive brain tumor, died Saturday — as she said she would.

Sean Crowley, spokesman for the non-profit advocacy organization Compassion & Choices, confirmed Maynard’s death Sunday evening.

“She died peacefully on Saturday, Nov. 1 in her Portland home, surrounded by family and friends,” according to a statement from Compassion & Choices, which first publicized Maynard’s controversial plan to take control of her death.

The statement said Maynard suffered “increasingly frequent and longer seizures, severe head and neck pain, and stroke-like symptoms.” She chose to take the “aid-in-dying medication she received months ago.”

She captivated millions via social media by announcing her plan to end her life around Nov. 1 by taking a lethal prescription provided to her by a doctor under Oregon’s death-with-dignity law.

After doctors told her in April that the brain cancer was growing rapidly and gave her months to life, Maynard moved with her family from California to Oregon to be eligible for physician-assisted dying.

Then she went a step further. She made a video, released by Compassion & Choices, and gave an interview with People Magazine that brought the issue of right to die to the public forefront. Maynard spoke of loving life — and wanting to die on her own terms.

Editorialists, ethicists and evangelists weighed in on whether physician-assisted dying is a dangerous act that devalues people who live with disabilities and denies God’s role in life or an act of self determination.

There was a flurry of headlines that she may have changed her mind when Maynard indicated that she might postpone taking the medication. She released a second video Wednesday where she said she had no set date — and no interest in what “others have decided is best for me.”

Maynard said she would wait until she could no longer feel joy in living but that her great fear was waiting too long. Under the requirements of the Oregon law, she would have to be able to take, and swallow, the lethal prescription without any assistance.

She concluded: “My goal, of course, is to influence this policy for positive change and I would like to see all Americans have access to the same health care rights.” Currently, five states — Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana and New Mexico — allow physician-assisted dying.

Her death brings a unique element to the movement in the age of social media because the conversation has included younger people.

“She’s changed the debate by changing the audience of the debate,” Abraham Schwab, an associate professor of philosophy at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, told the Associated Press.

One commenter on Facebook said Sunday evening, “Rest in peace, the pain is gone.” Another wrote, “May you find comfort and peace now. Rest peacefully!”

Her obituary, on the organization’s web site, concludes with her words: “It is people who pause to appreciate life and give thanks who are happiest. If we change our thoughts, we change our world! Love and peace to you all.”

  • scallywag

    If one is allowed a choice as to how they live shouldn’t they also be allowed a choice as to how they die, especially if they are terminally ill? What does society gain by prolonging these people’s agony and what does this suggest about society’s reluctance to accept that death is inevitable and should we give the power of life or death to the exclusive domain of the state?

    http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2014/11/brittany-maynard-suicide-terminal-brain-cancer-patient-take-her-own-life/

  • Chaplain Norman Martin

    Brittany Maynard, rest in peace. My prayers go out to all who have known her and love her. I didn’t put love in past tense for they will continue to love her. In her short life she has left a legacy of hope and compassion for the terminally ill. Of course her love ones will grieve, she is no longer with them (and us).

    In my many years as a pastoral counselor/psychotherapist in behavioral medicine units, I counseled a large number of people who had either made an attempt to kill themselves or were depress to the point of being suicidal. Some did go on to kill themselves.

    This is not the case with Brittany, she knew her illness, she knew the facts. She seemed to have lived a life full of adventure, a life which helped many. I watched the video, she was tearful at times but not depressed as I have seen depression. She showed no signs on withdrawing into herself, but stayed involved with her mother and husband.

    As a minister, I am troubled when any one takes his/her own life. People sometimes think or even say that suicide is a “permanent solution to a temporary problem”, that is certainly not true in this case. There is nothing temporary with inoperable brain tumor.

    Thank you Brittany for allowing us to get to know you, if only for a moment, on your video.

  • I’m concerned for the family and I hope they are surrounded with loving people who will give them all the support they need.

    Meanwhile we who live on must redouble every effort to support medical research and to encourage a new generation of scientists to explore solutions to these problems with Cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

    We can all make a difference if we choose to act.
    My donations go to Hospice as well. Those people are true heroes.

    __
    AM
    For Peace, Love and the Separation of Church and State.

  • Doc Anthony

    I remain thankful for Joni Eareckson Tada and her message of hope.

  • Fran

    She is now peacefully sleeping in death; and she has the marvelous hope of bring resurrected back to life on earth to be reunited with her family and friends.

    I am sure they would love to have her back, along with no more worries about sickness and death, which will be done away with.

    God’s kingdom or heavenly government will be the source of that gift (John 5.28,29; Acts 24:15; Revelation 21:1-5) during Jesus’ upcoming millennial rule.

    I would love to welcome her back again, here on earth, where she belongs!

  • Susan

    It’s strange to read comments like this that say “she has left a legacy of hope”. when I have not found any evidence that this poor girl had a relationship with Jesus Christ. There is no hope of resurrection life without Christ. I am sorry if this sounds harsh, but Christians must start speaking the truth in love if we want people to share our hope. This life on earth can be very difficult and is sometimes cruel but we can have hope beyond this life only if we believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. I encourage anyone reading this to pray and ask God to reveal himself (the truth) to you.

  • ” I encourage anyone reading this to pray and ask God to reveal himself (the truth) to you.”

    your god continues to do nothing about his holy men raping our children.
    there’s your truth.

  • Austin

    A close relative of mine had brain cancer and died in her twenties. Her last days were filled with love, acceptance, good doctor’s care and management of pain, and appreciation of sunlight, music, friends, and God. Legal assisted suicide can be too easily demanded by relatives who don’t want to help the sick or get tired of it. Look at the Netherlands.

  • rob

    teens don’t murder your selves ..we have no idea where this girl is now she went against Godly council .. she very will could be in hell.. we just don’t know if she had SAVING faith in Jesus or not.. and we would have to question a Christian church’s motives if any give her a Christian funeral..

    If you have questions about this
    http://www.whataboutjesus.com

  • Mike

    If a physician in Oregon can prescribe something that provides a peaceful death, why is it that states can’t figure out how to execute a death-row prisoner without some complex sequence of chemicals that results in 48 minutes of torturous gasping?

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  • Frank

    What an embarrassing display.

  • Excellent question. I’ve been wondering that, too.

  • The Great God Pan

    “The statement said Maynard suffered ‘increasingly frequent and longer seizures, severe head and neck pain, and stroke-like symptoms.'”

    RNS fave Joni Eareckson Tada is upset that this is no longer happening.

  • The Great God Pan

    Then I guess it’s a good thing this happened in Oregon, not the Netherlands, and was what the patient herself wanted.

  • Doc Anthony

    I choose not to worry about that. These killer crooks wanna dish out “48 minutes of torturous gasping” to women without a second thought (and no attorney appeals, I might add), so if — just if — the crooks accidentally REAP what they sow, they just gotta do like their victims and take it.

  • Susie B.

    My prayers are with her family and friends. Brittany was a beautiful lady whom I got to know on aol news and am so thankful. She was so wise for 29 years young, and lived life to the fullest even with her pain this last year (remarkable lady). I look up to her as she has been an inspiration to me. Thank you Brittany and I will definitely pay it forward and take time to enjoy the little things each day brings in your loving memory. May you RIP in paradise. God bless your family and friends and may they remember you are in their future.

  • Brittany moved to Oregon specifically in order to be able to have the end of life she wanted. As long as she could tolerate the seizures and pain, she continued to live life as she chose with activities from her “bucket list”. She had the loving support of family who were with her when she no longer wanted to live in pain and suffering and took action on her own.

    As has been clearly stated, the person choosing to die in this manner in Oregon must be able to administer the drug to herself and be “healthy” enough to swallow and retain the drug until it acts. There have been situations in Oregon in which people prepared themselves to die like this, but changed their minds. That is their right. There have also been those who waited too long and were incapable of administering the drug to themselves.

    No one should be made to suffer at the end of life if they choose not to do so. All people should be able to make end of life decisions for themselves without legal restrictions from the state or religious pressure from the church. Your belief system about life after death should not be imposed on others.

    My deepest sympathy and respect go to Brittany and her family at this time. She has done a wonderful service to others by speaking out and by the example she set.

  • GG Alin

    Did that suicide group pay for her to move to Oregon? BTW, that was kind of selfish of her, moving her family to Oregon so she could kill herself…
    Was she compensated for the People magazine stuff?

    but anyway, I have prayed for her and I hope her family will heal

  • Inhumane

    __
    AM
    For Peace, Love and the Separation of Church & State

  • Larry

    Its really easy to administer death dealing medication when the recipient WANTS to take it. Just give them a bunch of pills. As far as I know, virtually all death row inmates would probably rather be doing something else.

    I have always wondered why we don’t use the guillotine? Too messy?

  • Chaplain Norman Martin

    Brother Max
    I read your thoughtful response to the decision of Brittany Maynard to end her life. Also, placing the thought in my head to support hospice.

    My concern as the comments to the article continue is that they will degenerate into personal attacks and pontificating of various religious views and the story of Brittany, the young woman will fade into the background.

  • Chaplain Norman Martin

    Doc Anthony,
    I too and thankful for the message of Joni Eareckson Tada and have followed her story for many years. The difference, however in her story and Brittany’s is that Brittany knew she had little time to live and the seizures and pain were worsening. Both stories are inspiring to me.

  • Chaplain Norman Martin

    Susan,
    I though a long time before I wrote: “In her short life she has left a legacy of hope and compassion for the terminally ill. Of course her love ones will grieve, she is no longer with them (and us).”
    As a pastor and a Chaplain I have made a lot of visits to the terminally ill in my fifty plus years of ministry, some express the desire to die, others were no longer able to speak for themselves.The legacy of hope she left is for our death denying culture. As a hospital chaplain in the eighties and nineties, I found that friends and families of patients diagnosed with cancer would have difficulty in bringing themselves to even visit the patient. It was as if visiting might cause them to face their own eventual death which they didn’t want to even consider.

    I don’t know if Brittany Maynard was a Christian, I’m willing to leave that up to God’s judgement.

  • Fran

    Susan,

    God’s Word, the Bible, tell us that there is going to be a resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous (Acts 24:15).

    There are many persons who have died on earth and have not had an opportunity to learn about God and his purposes for man. Those persons have a resurrection hope to a cleansed, new earth to be reunited with family and friends. They will be given the opportunity to get to know him.

    If Brittany is one of those persons, she will have that hope as well. It’s comforting to know that God and his son, Jesus, are abundant in the qualities of love, justice and forgiveness towards mankind, and their decision is this regard will be the correct one.

    It’s wondrous that imperfect and sinful humans won’t be doing the judging!!

  • Not being a religious person I cannot offer prayers for the family.
    I can only wish them well and promise a personal commitment to donate to science in her name.

    But as an Atheist I must ponder the meaning of Brittany’s life through my own worldview and demonstrate the proper Atheist reaction as I see it.
    It is a point of fact that I see prayer as utterly useless and a diversion of responsibility – from us, to an invisible deity.

    So, in response….. Brittany’s life is at the forefront of my mind when I say:
    We must honor her life and bravery by ensuring that we redouble our efforts to produce cures and treatments to save beautiful women like Brittany.

    The false consolation of religion is exactly the enemy of progress to help people like Brittany – it is our moral imperative to redouble our very practical efforts to combat glioblastoma.

    My Uncle died of the same Glioblastoma brain tumor in 1988 while praying to St. Jude every day. St. Jude did nothing. Al donated money in the name of St. Jude to the Church asking for special prayers to save his life. It did nothing.

    So I have some personal experience with this.

    It borders on the obscene for me to see others do the same thing – sending money for prayer vigils and priests. The money should go to research.

    I am being painfully polite when I say, “say your prayers if you want to. but don’t forget to donate to science while you are at it.”

    I think all of the opportunism in this story is going to the religious who want to claim the right to have the higher platform and invoke ‘prayer’.
    I’ve had enough of that!
    And that is as sincere and as restrained as I can be.

    __
    AM
    For Peace, Love and the Separation of Church and State

  • Erica H

    I commend this short article to you all. The author laments the fact that journalists have adopted the Orwellian language requested by the assisted suicide advocates.

    He writes: “Until yesterday, the normal and accepted description of this kind of law in American English would be a law that authorizes doctors to assist with suicide…To bring about their legal change, then, these advocates are attempting linguistic change. Specifically, they want to change the language we use to think and talk about physician-assisted suicide. They attempt to advance this goal by changing a phrase like ‘lethal medication’ to ‘aid-in-dying medication,’ or ‘laws authorizing physician assistance with suicide’ to ‘laws authorizing aid in dying.’ ”

    It’s certainly well within their rights to do that. But why do journalists like Cathy Grossman feel compelled to adopt their language changes? Is anyone else bothered by the fact that journalists have decided to help the cause of the assisted suicide advocates along by adopting their language rather than the language they would have used ten years ago to describe killing oneself? At the very least, journalists should put quotation marks around these terms like they do with “partial-birth abortion.”

    http://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/mirrorofjustice/2014/11/aid-in-dying-as-political-language.html

  • Erica H

    I think they mean “a legacy of hope” for people who want to end their lives. They hope that suicide will eventually be considered an acceptable way out of a live one no longer wants to endure.

  • MarkE

    That is the most unChristian comment I have seen in some time. You should be ashamed of yourself – I think Jesus would be ashamed of it as well.

  • MarkE

    We all are dying – it’s just a matter of when and under what circumstances. And that is what is important. There is a difference between choosing to end one’s life in light of imminent causes (aid-in-dying) and taking one’s life out of despair or mental/emotion affliction that in itself is not life-ending (suicide). This difference is, I think, important and different terminology is helpful in communicating that.

  • Fran,

    I am a bit confused where you are getting the idea that some human will have another chance at life and to get to know God after they have died. The scripture you referenced in your previous post (such as John 5:29) states quite clearly that those who are righteous are resurrected to life and those who have done evil, to judgment. See also Matthew 25:31-46 for Jesus’s explanation. The bible is also clear as to what makes one righteous: 2 Corinthians 5:21- For our sake He made Him to be sin Who knew no sin, so that IN HIM we might become the righteousness of God. Therefore we must be found in Him to be declared righteous. Christians do this by confessing Christ as Lord. This is a willing submission that places Him as Ruler and Authority of every portion of our life. Is it also said that “it is appointed for man to die ONCE, and after that comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) In the very next verse it says that Christ will appear a second time to save those who are EAGERLY WAITING FOR HIM. Seems to clearly means that those who have rejected His message and already died will not be saved or given another chance. This is why our life and what we do during it is so important. There is eternal consequence to choices we make here. Thankfully, God made a Way through Christ’s sacrifice that we can be saved if we accept Him, what He did and Who He says He is! But indeed the path is narrow and hard that leads to life and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:14) Can you please biblically explain where you are getting the doctrine that after death some humans will be given another chance on the earth to get to know God?

    On a fun side note, in response to the comment you made about humans not being given authority to judge, 1 Corinthians 6:3 says that “we are to judge angels.” See also Matthew 19:28 where Jesus says that in the new world those who have followed Him will sit on 12 thrones and judge the 12 tribes of Israel. See also Revelation 3:21 and 20:4 for more information on this topic.

    Thanks for reading and may God bless you on this day that He has made!

  • Fran,

    I am a bit confused where you are getting the idea that some human will have another chance at life and to get to know God after they have died. The scripture you referenced in your previous post (such as John 5:29) states quite clearly that those who are righteous are resurrected to life and those who have done evil, to judgment. See also Matthew 25:31-46 for Jesus’s explanation. The bible is also clear as to what makes one righteous: 2 Corinthians 5:21- For our sake He made Him to be sin Who knew no sin, so that IN HIM we might become the righteousness of God. Therefore we must be found in Him to be declared righteous. Christians do this by confessing Christ as Lord. This is a willing submission that places Him as Ruler and Authority of every portion of our life. Is it also said that “it is appointed for man to die ONCE, and after that comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) In the very next verse it says that Christ will appear a second time to save those who are EAGERLY WAITING FOR HIM. Seems to clearly means that those who have rejected His message and already died will not be saved or given another chance. This is why our life and what we do during it is so important. There is eternal consequence to choices we make here. Thankfully, God made a Way through Christ’s sacrifice that we can be saved if we accept Him, what He did and Who He says He is! But indeed the path is narrow and hard that leads to life and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:14) Can you please biblically explain where you are getting the doctrine that after death some humans will be given another chance on the earth to get to know God?

    On a fun side note, in response to the comment you made about humans not being given authority to judge, 1 Corinthians 6:3 says that “we are to judge angels.” See also Matthew 19:28 where Jesus says that in the new world those who have followed Him will sit on 12 thrones and judge the 12 tribes of Israel. See also Revelation 3:21 and 20:4 for more information on this topic.

    Thanks for reading and may God bless you on this day that He has made!

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  • Robert Marshall Kelley

    You’re right – she might very well be on the Klingon Homeworld or Valhalla or in a bardo awaiting reincarnation. Any of these are just as likely as your Christian heaven and hell. All available evidence suggests to me that her consciousness has evaporated and she is no longer in pain. That is all that matters to me.

  • jessica perez

    Suzy, what does OUR God has to do with holy men raping your kid? bahaha. Please, educate yourself and learn how to differentiate one thing with the other. It shows the lack of education mixing things and giving a illiterate response to a comment Susan gave. It shows that you don’t have enough faith to be an atheist. Without God then nothing really is just or unjust , good or evil. right or wrong. Therefore, OUR GOD exists. I suggest that you keep your uneducated comments to yourself because it only shows that you open your mouth to scream without any logical argument.

  • jessica perez

    Fran, so by saying this you are judging Susan. She is not judging she is just stating facts. You are judging her, by saying she is judging. Jesus didn’t prevent judging, he commanded it. He said stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgement (john7:24). He also said: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged: and the commanded us to take the speck out of our brother;s eye after getting the log out of our own eye (matt: 7:1). That involves making a judgement. So theses are not commands not to judge, but how to judge. In other words, judge rightly, not hypocritically.While we can’t avoid making judgements, we are not to be judgmental. We are all sinners who need grace.

  • jessica perez

    servantofthemosthigh, Thank you , thank you , thank you. There is actually little knowledge and just crazy non sense comments. You explained everything perfectly.

  • jessica perez

    Call it death with dignity and make it however pretty you want to . Seems to me that it was a coward move. Oh let’s just euthanize every kid I see here at St. Judes because they have terminal cancer. I have been with family members that had this disease and let me say that they died peacefully and no headaches, no seizures and yes it was glioblastoma multiforme. They diagnosed her and she went, flew everyowhere and then killed herself. That is what happened. Suicide is suicide no matter how pretty you out it or how you try to excuse a death. So now deciding to die naturally is dying without dignity? I pray for her family and her. It is very sad wheat happended to her but I despise groupies that make her some kind of legend because she decided to euthanize herself. Go back to the dictionary and see what dignity means.

  • Bonnie Anderson

    Thank you for embodying the humanity, soundness of judgment and kindness of heart worthy of your beautiful faith. As a former Christian I treasure reactions like yours to Ms. Maynard’s act, as a welcome vestige of the values I took from my background and have carried with me throughout my life.

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  • Ely

    Why would you refer to Max as brother?

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