29-year-old Brittany Maynard who became the face of the right-to-death movement and captivated millions all over the country through social media died Saturday night. Advocacy group Compassion & Choices announced the passing of Maynard saying the passing of a wonderful family saddened them and that she passed peacefully in her own bed surrounded by family. Maynard was diagnosed with a stage 4 malignant brain tumor in April. She moved with her family from California to Oregon, where she could legally die with medication prescribed under the Oregon Death With Dignity Act. Her initial plan was to die October 30 but postponed it due to her health. She created a fund to help advance the cause of states enacting doctor assisted death laws. Four states allow “death with dignity” including Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico.
Maynard explained her decision on YouTube, which received over 9 million views. She also wrote a column for CNN explaining choosing “death with dignity”.
I quickly decided that death with dignity was the best option for me and my family,” “We had to uproot from California to Oregon, because Oregon is one of only five states where death with dignity is authorized.”
She released a video last week telling the world that she hadn’t not chosen when she would end her life. Compassion & Choices sent the video to CNN last week! “I still feel good enough, and I still have enough joy, and I still laugh and smile with my family and friends enough that it doesn’t seem like the right time right now. However, it will come, because I feel myself getting sicker. It’s happening each week.”
Under Oregon law, the person must be a capable adult, live in state and have been diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to death within six months. An obituary was released on her website saying
Brittany chose to make a well thought out and informed choice to Die With Dignity in the face of such a terrible, painful, and incurable illness. She moved to Oregon to pass away in a little yellow house she picked out in the beautiful city of Portland. Oregon is a place that strives to protect patient rights and autonomy; she wished that her home State of California had also been able to provide terminally ill patients with the same choice,” the obituary reads. “In this final message, she wanted to express a note of deep thanks to all her beautiful, smart, wonderful, supportive friends whom she ‘sought out like water” during her life and illness for insight, support, and the shared experience of a beautiful life.
Messages started pouring in on Facebook expressing sadness over Maynard’s death. Her case has drawn both positive and negative criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. She fought long and hard in support of the “Death with Dignity” movement. “I won’t live to see the DwD movement reach critical mass, but I call on you to carry it forward …. I have to believe that the pain we’ve endured has a greater purpose in the change we can create as a nation. I leave it in your hands.”