The following comes from an Oct. 12 story on SFGate.com.
Brittany Maynard doesn’t want to die. But more than anything, she doesn’t want to die a horrendous death — like the kind that comes with the type of brain cancer she was diagnosed with nine months ago.
So if all goes as planned in the coming weeks, Maynard will dissolve a deadly dose of prescribed medicine into a cup of water and drink it. Within minutes, she will slip into a coma-like state. And an hour or two later, the 29-year-old newlywed will be dead.
The East Bay resident moved to Oregon to take advantage of that state’s Death with Dignity law, and a video in which she talks poignantly about her fate has gone viral — with nearly 6 million views in a mere five days — making the onetime teacher one of the most compelling spokespersons for advocates of assisted dying.
Perhaps it’s because Maynard is charismatic and easy to connect with: She offers a warm, friendly smile as opposed to the gaunt stare of 1990s euthanasia activist Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Whatever the reason, Maynard has become the new face of a national debate over whether doctors should be allowed to prescribe deadly doses of drugs to dying patients wishing to avoid suffering.
Maynard said she was forced to move to Oregon in order to access the lethal drug after learning California was not among five states that allow it. Washington, Vermont, Montana and New Mexico are the other states….
Shortly after Maynard was married two years ago, she began having headaches. Migraines, a neurologist told her.
After a particularly bad headache during a trip to Healdsburg over the last New Year’s holiday, Maynard wound up in the hospital. Brain scans showed a tumor. Doctors said it was cancer.
She was originally given 3 to 5 years to live, with the possibility of making it 10 years.
That was devastating news for Maynard and her husband, Dan Diaz, who were trying to get pregnant. Maynard, a UC Berkeley graduate, was working at the time as a math and reading intervention specialist with kindergarten through sixth grade students in the East Bay.
During a followup visit three months later, the news was worse. The tumor had grown and was now a stage four glioblastoma. Doctors said she had six months to live.
After months of searching for clinical trials and a miracle, Maynard said she realized she needed to think about how she wanted to die. She told her family she didn’t want the drawn out “horrendous” death people with her type of glioblastoma can suffer. She wanted to go out on her terms, with music softly playing in the background, while lying in the bed she shares with her husband. She wanted Death with Dignity, as the Oregon law allowing physician-assisted death is named….
California is no stranger to the aid-in-dying debate. In 1992, state voters rejected a ballot initiative to legalize the practice by 54 to 46 percent. Lawmakers have tried four times to pass bills in the state Legislature between 1995 and 2008.
Each ran into significant opposition and failed.
“The assisted suicide debate is nothing new,” said Tim Rosales, spokesman for Californians Against Assisted Suicide, an advocacy organization representing medical, faith and disability rights groups. “I think the organization Compassion & Choices has had California on its political hit list a long time for many reasons. They have had several attempts to legalize assisted suicide, but each time there has been a strong outcry from the disability rights community, the medical community and others.”
….Rosales said it’s easy for advocates to point to the tragic story of Maynard trying to access the drug, while forgetting cases like Barbara Wagner.
Oregon media reported in 2008 that Wagner, then a 64-year-old with lung cancer, was denied an expensive drug prescribed by her doctor to prolong her life. Instead, her insurance company offered to pay for a list of other drugs, including the one for physician-assisted death….
To read the entire story, click here.