Terminally ill Brittany Maynard takes her own life


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Brittany Maynard stuck by her decision.

The woman with brain cancer who revived a national debate about physician-assisted suicide ended her life Saturday by swallowing lethal drugs made available under an Oregon law allowing terminally ill people to choose when to die. She would have been 30 on Nov. 19.  

Maynard had been in the spotlight for about a month since publicizing that she and her husband, Dan Diaz, moved to Portland from Northern California so that she could take advantage of the Oregon law. She told journalists she planned to die Nov. 1, shortly after her husband’s birthday, but reserved the right to move the date forward or push it back.

Maynard ended her suffering right on schedule after hinting at a possible delay in a video released last week. “She died as she intended — peacefully in her bedroom, in the arms of her loved ones,” said Sean Crowley, a spokesman for the advocacy group Compassion & Choices.

Crowley said Maynard “suffered increasingly frequent and longer seizures, severe head and neck pain, and stroke-like symptoms. As symptoms grew more severe, she chose to abbreviate the dying process by taking the aid-in-dying medication she had received months ago.”

The issue of physician-assisted suicide is not new, but Maynard’s youth and vitality before she became ill brought the discussion to a younger generation. Working with Compassion & Choices, Maynard used her story to speak out for the right of terminally ill people like herself to end their lives on their own terms.

Maynard’s choice was not without detractors. Some religious groups and others opposed to physician-assisted suicide voiced objections. “We are saddened by the fact that this young woman gave up hope, and now our concern is for other people with terminal illnesses who may contemplate following her example,” Janet Morana, executive director of the group Priests for Life, said in a statement after Maynard’s death. “Brittany’s death was not a victory for a political cause. It was a tragedy, hastened by despair and aided by the culture of death invading our country.”

Oregon was the first U.S. state to make it legal for a doctor to prescribe a life-ending drug to a terminally ill patient of sound mind who makes the request. The patient must swallow the drug without help; it is illegal for a doctor to administer it.

More than 750 people in Oregon have used the law to die as of Dec. 31, 2013. The median age of the deceased is 71. Only six were younger than 35. The state does not track how many terminally ill people move to Oregon to die. A patient must prove to a doctor that they are living in Oregon. Some examples of documentation include a rental agreement, a voter registration card or a driver’s license.

Four other states — Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico — allow patients to seek help to die. Maynard earned two degrees and had an adventuresome spirit during her short life. She taught at orphanages in Nepal and spent time in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Costa Rica. She climbed Kilimanjaro a month before marrying Diaz in September 2012.

She was diagnosed with brain cancer on New Year’s Day of this year and was later told she had six months to live. Before dying, Maynard tried to live as fully as she could. She and her husband took a trip to the Grand Canyon last month — fulfilling a wish on Maynard’s “bucket list.”

Maynard told The Associated Press in an Oct. 8 interview that her husband and other relatives accepted her decision. “I think in the beginning my family members wanted a miracle; they wanted a cure for my cancer,” she said. “When we all sat down and looked at the facts, there isn’t a single person that loves me that wishes me more pain and more suffering.”

Follow Steven DuBois at http://twitter.com/pdxdub .


7 thoughts on “Terminally ill Brittany Maynard takes her own life

  1. I salute this young woman’s courage. Our lives, after all. are our own. The decision whether to continue to suffer or to take control of the situation and depart under our own terms is and ought to be the right of anyone. We may disagree with this decision but it was hers and hers alone to make.

    1. On the contrary, our lives belong to God, not ourselves. We should allow Him to choose when we pass. Perhaps he had a plan for her?
      Hope her pain is gone, but I have a feeling it is now only greater, for giving up.

      1. you shouldn’t assume you know so much , we are spiritual beings having a short physical experience doesnt matter if it is one day or 100 years it is but a dream , and god wouldn’t let her die if she hadn’t fulfilled her purpose . you dont go to hell for suicide , thats dark age church mumbo jumbo .

        1. I agree, and if faced with the same challenge, I’ve already informed my sister in Oregon to make room for me in her home because I will be taking the same route Brittany took.

          And no, I don’t believe I will be going to hell for my choice. No other human has any say over what goes on between me and my maker.

          Rest in Peace Brittany and I’m so happy you are no longer trapped in a painful body.
          . . .

  2. We are to live every day for our Lord Jesus, even to the point of rejoicing in our pain and sorrow as Gods word directs us. Every hair on our head is numbered, and every tear saved in a jar.
    Now one can stop a person from taking thier life, however in these end times we have great responsibility as we have the 66 books of the Bible to light our path. I would not want to be before God with my last act on earth being a chalange to his sovereignty.
    Keep spreading the truth Outlaw, people need to hear it!

  3. I also admire her courage, and the courage, love, and support her family.

    She was able to celebrate her life WITH her family and loved ones
    rather than them mourning her in her absence.
    She was in control of her own life… and death…as it should be.

    It’s a personal decision… about self…. its C.H.O.I.C.E.

    My body is mine, as yours..is yours.

    I don’t hurt you, you don’t hurt me….
    everyone lives happily ever after.

    You dictators need to get a real life of your own.
    Leave everyone else alone.

  4. Gee what a shame to have to make those choices when this is a better choice imho. Especially in Oregon of all places. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0psJhQHk_GI This film could well be the most important hr. spent in your life. Have a look Cathleen. My wife was given one month to live (stage 4 lung cancer with lobectomy) that was 3 yrs ago and she is going strong today in remmission.

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