Terminally ill newlywed Brittany Maynard chose to end her life on
November 1 — but she continues to be an important voice for the Death With
Dignity movement and right-to-die legislation, even though she is no longer
with us. In a new video for Compassion & Choices published on November 19 —
what would have been Maynard’s 30th birthday — she leaves us with one final
message, explaining her choice and urging us to take action.
According to the Associated Press, the video was recorded in August. In it, she explained, “I decided to share my story because I felt like this issue of Death With Dignity is misunderstood by many people in our community and culture, and I wanted people to understand that.” She once again stressed not only the importance of being able to make such a decision, but the fact that the decision was hers and hers alone: “As I went through the process of being approved for Death With Dignity, I felt very valued by my physicians here, and very protected,” she said. “There’s no way I could have possibly been coerced into this. It’s not a fear-based choice; it’s a logic-based choice.” She added, “If I can play even the smallest part in helping to reduce fear or misunderstanding, then it’s worth speaking up for.”
The video also features headlines from the media coverage of her story, as well as messages from others in favor of Death With Dignity — both those suffering from terminal illnesses themselves, and those whose loved ones died from them. It’s a powerful statement, and one that reflects the growing support for the movement. Right now, four states in addition to Oregon allow terminally ill patients to determine the time of their own death: Washington, Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico. Compassion & Choices told AP that “legislators in about a dozen states plan to introduce right-to-die laws next year, including in Wyoming and Colorado.” It’s going to be an uphill battle, but it’s one worth fighting. As Maynard’s mother, Debbie, put it in the Compassion & Choices video released on October 29, “It’s not my job to tell her how to live, and it’s not my job to tell her how to die. It’s my job to love her through it.”
Maynard’s final words in the video are these:
“If there’s one message to come away with from everything that I’ve been through, it is: No matter what life presents you with, never be afraid to use your own voice. And even if you are uncertain, even if your voice is shaking — ask the questions you want to ask. Speak up for yourself. Advocate.”
Her legacy? Be the change you want to see in the world.
To find out more about the Death With Dignity movement and what you can do to help, visit The Brittany Maynard Fund.
Images: CompassionChoices/YouTube (3)