As an attorney that passionately advocates for issues of the elderly and special needs population, I feel compelled to share Brittany’s story to help all of us learn more about planning for a good death. Although there are many different opinions about the death with dignity law, the important issue to consider is awareness, reflection, and decision making before the situation presents itself.
Brittany Maynard’s final video is attached here. Recall that Brittany is the newly married 29 year old young woman with aggressive brain cancer and a prognosis of death in the following few weeks. She decided to relocate to Oregon to take advantage of Oregon’s death with dignity laws, and tentatively set a date of November 1, 2014 to end her life surrounded by her close friends, family and dogs. She wished to die in her own bed at home while still able to communicate and enjoy her loved ones before she suffers the end stages of this brain cancer. Brittany’s message is clear– she wants to dictate her own death, but hopes that all of us have choices in determining when and how we die. Brittany ended her life on November 1st.
I am here in Portland where Brittany lived and died. I am speaking on issues involving vulnerable adults and exploitation, but I cannot help asking local attorneys about Brittany Maynard and about their experience with clients dealing with death with dignity. When speaking with professionals here in Oregon, they were clear in indicating that although many people had obtained the prescriptions that could cause their deaths, less than 1/2 actually used them. That is sometimes because they changed their minds, or they wanted more time with their families and friends, but the thing that struck me again and again was that they had the choice. The question is, would you want this choice?