PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A 29-year-old newlywed is about to die in a few weeks, but Brittany Maynard says she wants to die with dignity.
The California-native recently relocated to Oregon to access the law that lets terminally ill people end their own lives.
Doctors diagnosed Maynard with brain cancer in January, and three months later, the tumor had grown massively, giving her only a few months to live.
“Right when I was diagnosed, my husband and I were actively trying for a family, which is heartbreaking for us both,” said Maynard.
After researching hospice and other care options, Maynard thought aid in dying was her best choice. So, she started working with Portland-based nonprofit Compassion & Choices, which ensures end-of-life care.
The group spoke about Maynard’s fight to expand the practice nationwide.
“I think what Brittany did with her courage was really put a face with this situation,” said Matt Whitaker with Compassion & Choices, which paired with Maynard to produce the video below to promote death with dignity.
In 1997, Oregon was the first state to pass the Death with Dignity Act. Since then, more than 1,100 have had prescriptions written under the act, and more than 700 of those have actually used the prescription to die the same way Brittany plans to do.
“People aren’t scared,” said Whitaker. “They’re feeling empowered by her and that’s really encouraging that people are seeing this 29-year-old, brave woman who came forward and empowered to make change.”
Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico have also passed this type of law. While an eligible person can request a prescription, we found out a doctor doesn’t have to write it. Once the prescription is obtained, the patient chooses whether to fill it or even take it.
Maynard insists she’s not suicidal, but rather she wants to die on her own terms. She has painful headaches and seizures, but she’s managing it with medications.
She knows people can’t always pack up and move like Brittany’s family did, so she hopes her testimony will convince lawmakers to let everyone have the same choice she does.
“What’s important to you? What do you care about? What matters?” she asked. “Pursue that. Forget the rest.”
Brittany plans to die Nov. 1, two days after her husband’s birthday. To see her full interview, along with information about her fund, click here: http://www.thebrittanyfund.org/.