Ladies & Gents –
Last week, an unexpected video went viral. It was a poignant plea from 29-yr-old Brittany Maynard for death with dignity.
Maynard is a terminally ill newlywed from California, now facing an unimaginable decision: deciding when and where she will die. After being diagnosed with brain cancer, she reviewed her options with her husband. Then, Brittany made two decisions:
1) to move to Oregon where she can end her life on November 1, 2014 on her own terms and
2) to use her last weeks to advocate for others who are terminally ill and cannot access death with dignity due to lack of money or proper medical support.
There are only five states (Montana, New Mexico, Vermont, Washington and Oregon) that currently authorize the regulated medical practice of aiding terminally ill patients in dying – also known as death with dignity.
Whether you call it death with dignity or end-of-life autonomy or physician-assisted suicide, the controversy over allowing someone control over how they die raises tough legal questions. The medical community and the American people remain divided. An online poll from the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that 67% of American doctors oppose the legalization of physician assisted suicide: one of the main reasons because it goes against a doctor’s oath to “do no harm”. But a Gallup poll shows nearly seven out of 10 Americans (69%) think that doctors should be allowed by law to end the life of a patient who has an incurable disease “by some painless means,” if requested by that patient or their family.
This is a very personal decision. So, our call to action this week is a little different – if you agree that people should have end-of-life autonomy, we are sharing Compassion & Choices’s campaign to help expand legal access for terminally ill patients.
But we’d like to hear from everyone on this issue. Tell us your opinion using the hashtag #DeathwithDignity on Facebook and Twitter.