PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Brittany Maynard stuck by her decision.
The terminally ill woman who revived a national debate about physician-assisted suicide ended her life Saturday by swallowing lethal drugs made available under an Oregon law allowing terminally ill people to choose when to die. She would have been 30 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 ended her suffering from brain cancer right on schedule after hinting at a possible delay in a video released last week.
“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.
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.”
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.