I've been following the story of Brittany Maynard, as I'm sure other members here have been as well. I was wondering how people feel about it.
Maynard was diagnosed with brain cancer in January 2014. She discussed the illness with experts in the field and was told how she would die from it. After exploring the options available to her she moved to Oregon so she could access the state's Dying with Dignity Act. This Act allows terminally sick people to end their lives through voluntarily self-administered lethal medication prescribed from a physician.
She went very public with this through youtube and social media to bring attention to the cases of people who would choose to end their lives on their own terms rather than suffer interminably for the remainder of their days. She was very clear, as well, in differentiating between the right to die for terminally sick patients and those who are suicidal. She stated that she did not want to die, but she was dying without choice in the matter. She was a person who wanted to live. She chose to die with dignity since she saw it as less terrifying than dying from aggressive brain cancer. In an interview with People magazine she stated 'There is not a cell in my body that is suicidal or wants to die.. I want to live. I wish there was a cure for my disease but there's not.'
According to Oregon's data, 1,173 people have had prescriptions written through the Dying with Dignity Act and 752 patients have died from medications prescribed under the Act.
To qualify to get help under the Act, the person must be a resident of Oregon and deemed to be mentally competent. Oregon does not keep track of the number of people who moved there to access assistance to the Act.
The issue of dying with dignity has long been a battleground in political and religious circles. George Eighmey, a retired legislator who helped pass the legislation stated that the diversity of people who use the law shows there is no consensus based on those views. Forty one per cent said they were Republicans and more than fifty per cent described themselves as belonging to a religion.
I've heard leaders describing Oregon's laws as immoral and cruel. From my own perspective, these words would more aptly apply to a society that would force terminally sick people to die in a cruel, inhumane manner rather than allow them to end their lives peacefully surrounded by their loved ones.