Terminally ill woman goes through with physician-assisted suicide

World Today

Brittany MaynardFILE – This undated file photo provided by the Maynard family shows Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old terminally ill woman who died under Oregon’s law that allows the terminally ill to end their own lives. Sean Crowley, spokesman from the group Compassion & Choices, said late Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014, that Maynard was surrounded by family Saturday when she took lethal medication prescribed by a doctor and died. She was weeks shy of her 30th birthday. (AP Photo/Maynard Family, File)

On Saturday, November 1st, terminally ill 29-year-old Brittany Maynard stuck by her decision to end her life as planned at her home in Oregon. Maynard ended her life by swallowing lethal drugs made available under an Oregon law, allowing terminally ill people to choose when to die. Before her passing, she revived a national debate about physician-assisted suicide (PAS). Maynard would have turned 30-years-old 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 committed PAS on schedule after hinting at a possible delay in a video released last week.

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CCTV’s Chris Casquejo reports.

Terminally ill woman goes through with physician-assisted suicide

Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old who suffered from terminal brain cancer, died over the weekend in U.S. state of Oregon, surrounded by her family. Maynard's story went viral after she moved from California to Oregon to take advantage of the state’s so-called “death with dignity” law. CCTV's Chris Casquejo reports.

Advocates for a ‘Death with Dignity’:

“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.

The Opposition on Physician-Assisted Suicide:

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.”

A Case-Study on Oregon:

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.

Want more details on the story? CLICK HERE for background on Brittany’s journey and more on PAS

This story was compiled with information from the Associated Press.

The death of Brittany Maynard hits home for another family in the U.S. Meg Holmes was also diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009. She used the “Death with Dignity” Act in the U.S. state of Washington to end her life. CCTV America is joined by Meg’s husband, Andrew Taylor.

Meg Holmes' story of death with dignity

The death of Brittany Maynard hits home for another family in the U.S. Meg Holmes was also diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009. She used the "Death with Dignity" Act in the U.S. state of Washington to end her life. CCTV America is joined by Meg's husband, Andrew Taylor.