Brittany Maynard, 29, appeared to have everything. She was a newlywed with a loving family, who had traveled the world, ran marathons, and even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Then she started having severe headaches.
She found out that the headaches were being caused by Stage II glioblastoma multiforme, and initially was told that she had years to live. But after having surgery, her doctors discovered that she actually had Stage IV glioblastoma multiforme, the deadliest form of brain cancer, and was given only months to live.
Now, she’s being heralded in the media as a courageous advocate for the right to die after giving People magazine an exclusive interview about her decision to end her life on November 1.
“There is not a cell in my body that is suicidal or that wants to die,” she tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. “I want to live. I wish there was a cure for my disease but there’s not.”
… “My entire family has gone through a cycle of devastation,” she says. “I’m an only child – this is going to make tears come to my eyes. For my mother, it’s really difficult, and for my husband as well, but they’ve all supported me because they’ve stood in hospital rooms and heard what would happen to me.”
… “My husband and I were actively trying for a family, which is heartbreaking for us,” she says in the video.
… “I really wanted to celebrate my husband’s birthday, which is October 26,” she says. “I’m getting sicker, dealing with more pain and seizures and difficulties so I just selected it.”
… “I’m dying, but I’m choosing to suffer less,” she says, “to put myself through less physical and emotional pain and my family as well.”
Maynard’s choice to end her life in less than a month, even though she could have months longer to live, is being applauded by some across the country. One website calls it “ending her life in the bravest way possible.” People Magazine never once even mentions the potential negatives to legalizing assisted suicide — they just spout all of the empty platitudes about “dying with dignity,” or choosing to die “on her own terms,” and rather than calling it what it is (suicide), the magazine goes along with Maynard, who denies that she will be committing suicide, calling it “aid in dying”.
Maynard is using her remaining time to advocate for the legalization of assisted suicide, and is raising money for Compassion & Choices, the right-to-die organization formerly known as the Hemlock Society and advocates for the right of people who are not terminally ill to be able to be killed by a physician, because they are elderly or mentally ill or disabled. A booklet they published advocates for one to “voluntary stop eating and drinking” (VSED) for, as they say, “people who are not seriously ill, but are simply ‘done'”.
None of this is surprising. The legalization of assisted suicide has led to horrific consequences no matter where it happens. The Lithuanian health minister is pushing to allow for the poor to be euthanized.
In Switzerland, assisted suicide started out only being legal for people who were terminally ill. Now, it’s a free-for-all where anyone can kill themselves at any time, for any reason, and clinics like Dignitas and Exit have flourished because of it, making millions off of people’s suffering and pain. They’re also entirely unregulated, and recently the clinics began allowing elderly people who are healthy to kill themselves. They are literally profiting off of suicide tourism. An Italian woman is a perfect example, who traveled to Switzerland to be killed because she lost her looks.
Belgium recently decided to make the euthanization of children legal, because children were already being killed, so rather than punish the doctors who were breaking the law, it was clearly better to just legalize it. This is in addition to the myriad of other people that they’re just fine euthanizing: transsexuals, twins scared of going blind, people suffering from depression, anorexics… basically, anything is fair game in Belgium. The transsexual man, Nathan Verhelst, even had his death broadcast onto local television. Doctors in Belgium have even given themselves permission to kill patients without getting the patient’s consent first.
The Netherlands is another country with a euthanasia free-for-all, where Dutch doctors can and do legally euthanize virtually anyone they feel like, including babies with birth defects, even if the patient did not or could not consent.
And who could forget when the Dr. Phil show advocated for the “mercy killing” of the disabled?
This is the problem with Maynard’s campaign. She was chosen to be the public face of Compassion & Choices at the moment for a reason: she’s young, she’s beautiful, she’s sympathetic. She’s in a tragic, horrific situation that pulls at everyone’s heartstrings. Her story is meant to manipulate your emotions.
Why would you want to force a person to suffer through such an awful illness? Do you want them to be in pain? She’s so noble and brave and selfless! We should applaud her courage and conviction. Don’t rob her of her only comfort. It’s difficult to argue against such emotional manipulation, and the exploitation of Maynard’s story. And the right-to-die advocates know it. It says a lot that a woman’s choice to kill herself is being heralded as “brave” and “selfless”, when in reality, it is nothing of the sort. It’s being done because she’s afraid of her illness, and killing herself a few days after her husband’s birthday is certainly not selfless — now every year, on his birthday, he’ll remember his wife dying.
Bravery is fighting until the end, or choosing to make your final days full and meaningful. Killing yourself is taking the easy way out. Glorifying her decision is disturbing to the extreme.
It would be interesting to see what Maynard’s reaction would be to what has happened to every country that has legalized assisted suicide. It never, ever remains solely for the terminally ill, though it always starts that way.
The right-to-die lobby wants you to focus on your emotions, and not think more deeply about the topic, but really think about it. What Maynard is doing will affect much more than just her own life and that of her family’s. Her campaign will bring legitimacy to organizations like Compassion & Choices, and will certainly encourage more people to approve of the legalization of assisted suicide. But how many people will also be told of the seedy underbelly of the assisted suicide/euthanasia industry?
It is also disturbing to see that a person’s life is being framed as not worth living because they have an illness. The phrasing of assisted suicide as “death with dignity” is ironic and insulting, because it robs people of their inherent human dignity.
If a person is bedridden, or terminally ill, or disabled, it doesn’t mean their life is any less valuable. But assisted suicide advocates are right there ready to feed into your worst fears, whispering into your ear that you’re right, life isn’t worth living anymore, just give up and stop fighting, and it will be better for everyone. A person feels suicidal, and they’re there with their hands out, eager to accept your money and take your life. There’s nothing dignified or selfless about that. It’s sickening and ghoulish and wrong.
What Brittany Maynard is doing is legal, and therefore, it’s a choice that she has every right to make. But the rest of us have a choice to make as well, and that choice should not be to celebrate a person’s decision to prematurely end their life.