29-Year-Old Woman Moves To Oregon for Legal Aid in Dying


Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor that doctors predict will end her life within six months, has produced a video in conjunction with aid-in-dying advocacy organization Compassion and Choices meant to explain her decision to end her life with the aid of prescribed medication.

The video is powerful personal testimony in favor of a procedure only legally available in five states. Under Oregon's law, a physician may prescribe life-ending barbituates to a terminally ill patient who is of a sound mind to make such a decision.

Maynard moved out of California to exercise this control over her own death. She explains the decision to People magazine and offers some pointed criticism of state lawmakers who would interfere in such personal choices:

"Right now it's a choice that's only available to some Americans, which is really unethical," she says.

"The amount of sacrifice and change my family had to go through in order to get me to legal access to death with dignity – changing our residency, establishing a team of doctors, having a place to live – was profound," she says.

"There's tons of Americans who don't have time or the ability or finances," she says, "and I don't think that's right or fair."

"I believe this choice is ethical, and what makes it ethical is it is a choice," she says. "The patient can change their mind right up to the last minute. I feel very protected here in Oregon."

Reason TV produced a video in May 2013 featuring doctors in Oregon and Montana who've prescribed life-ending medication, as well as a 91-year-old retired California doctor who vows to "die with dignity" whether the state likes it or not.

NEXT: 'Extremely Misunderstood' Pot Prohibitionist Likens Cannabis Consumers to Drunk Drivers

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Pro-choice!

  2. So how about prisoners?
    Belgium Agrees To Euthanize Man Convicted Of Murder, Rape:

    Convicted of rape and murder, Van Den Bleeken has been in prison for nearly 30 years. Now in his 50s, he recently asked to die because he hasn’t seen any improvement in the psychological problems that have been linked to his crimes.

    1. He didn’t give his victim a choice to live, so why should he be granted the choice to die and escape his punishment?

      1. I don’t know if they should — but you get the doctors in and they will be treating them prisoners for all kinds of “suffering.”

      2. Meh. This way costs me less. Such choices should be encouraged.

        1. I don’t think it’s a good idea for the government to be encouraging people to die.

          1. Convicted felons? Who are asking to?

            How can I help?

            1. Well, assuming they are felons who actually victimized other people. Which this guy did.

      3. He didn’t give his victim a choice to live, so why should he be granted the choice to die and escape his punishment?

        Because two wrongs don’t make a right?

        I get no satisfaction from people sitting in prisons, no matter how bad their crimes. Don’t get me wrong, they deserve to be punished. But I don’t think that them sitting there for years makes the world a better place. The only problem I have with allowing prisoners to kill themselves is that they might be unduly pressured to do so by their jailors.

  3. The government should forcibly extend this woman’s life as long as possible.
    She cannot be trusted to know what is in her best interest.

    1. I bet the freeloading bitch hasn’t come close to paying back society the debt she owes for having clean water, roads, and public schools, among all the other things government has done for her.

      1. At-least her soul will go to the “company store”…because living in Potemkin village is a wonderful thing.

    2. For a second I almost had a heart attack thinking you were serious – before I get mocked into oblivion for this, understand that the reason I thought you might actually think that was because brain cancer comes with a neurological deficit.

  4. I say if she is caught trying to kill herself, the police should shoot her repeatedly.

    1. That will teach her to be so uppity.

      1. War on suicidal wimmenz!

  5. Just jump off a bridge.

    1. It doesn’t always work.

  6. What makes Oregon barbituates more lethal? Does she just insist on having the government’s permission? Why not just take the whole bottle of your home state’s perscription? I don’t get it.

    Same thing with the death penalty. You can buy 50 bucks worth of heroin on a street corner in almost any town in America that will put you right to sleep forever. Perfectly humane and reliable (assuming the condenmed doesn’t have a tolerance.) My problem with the death penalty is the obvious moral bankruptcy of those in charge of doling it out, as much as their inability to actually achieve the desired result.

    1. It’s the avoidance of legal liability and repercussions for those she leaves behind.

  7. how about prisoners?

    “I said, ‘Opie, did ya think I was gonna hang myself for littering?'”

    1. how many circles and arrows on those 8×10 glossy photos?

  8. I just spent the last 10 weeks with my father-in-law as he went from a relatively healthy, but somewhat frail 81 year old to death. He had an operation and then contacted a septic infection about 3 weeks after the operation. The sepsis left him extremely weakened, to the point that rehabilitation was unlikely. His decline was slow and agonizing to watch.

    About 4 weeks before his death, he begged me to “help” him. He make it clear he wanted me to help him die. In Louisiana where he was hospitalized, I couldn’t without going to jail. Long story short, eventually, he finally came to a point where his body could not digest food, and at that point the hospice nurses were legally allowed him to starve to death by taking away nourishment given through a peg tube into his stomach. It took nearly 4 weeks, but finally he died this way.

    I got to know 4-5 nurses and doctors at the hospice facility where my father-in-law died and they all were of the opinion that we often treat our pets better in their death than we do our loved ones. Many, many people need to have the options discussed in this article at their death.

  9. I’m sorry, what, they don’t have means and methods of committing suicide in the state she came from? If she’s insistant on offing herself, why does she care if it’s against the law? Freakin’ crusaders.

    1. So she “offs herself,” and anyone who knew she might do it gets investigated and possibly prosecuted, and her life insurance can’t pay off, and probate of her will gets held up while the police investigate, and heaven help anyone who helps by giving her a glass of water or whatever.

      She wants to die with dignity, not screw over her survivors.

  10. “I believe this choice is ethical, and what makes it ethical is it is a choice,” she says.

    Unfortunately most states don’t think their property deserves a choice.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.