Opinion

Does it matter that Brittany Maynard died by assisted suicide?

Brittany Maynard

By now you have likely heard of the tragic death of Brittany Maynard. The 29-year-old with terminal cancer ended her life in Oregon as a result of the state’s assisted suicide law.

After Brittany publicly announcing her decision, many tried to talk her out of her decision, including those who were diagnosed with cancer themselves. She also became a voice for the pro-suicide organization, Compassion & Choices, which could hardly be a more distracting term when it comes to the real issues.

For a time it seemed that there could be hope for Brittany when she announced that she was re-thinking her decision, as she said “now doesn’t seem like the right time to die.” She also mentioned that she did want to die though before she was too sick to die with dignity. What does that say about those who live until the conclusion of their illness? In many ways it’s a slap in the face. But regardless, such people will still die with dignity.

As Cassy Fiano pointed out in her piece for Live Action News:

It is hard to square her statement that now doesn’t seem like the right time to die, only to a short time later still choose to end her life. It makes one wonder how much coercion she may have been receiving, or if she was pressured to stick to her “deadline.”

Cassy also goes on to discuss the tragedy of Brittany’s death and the glorifying of her suicide. That Brittany killed herself under a state law does not change that she took matters into her own hands and that she is still dead.

Many of us can never imagine what it would be like to have terminal cancer. And God willing, we never will. But we all have our struggles in life. Some of us, for whatever reasons, whether it be our biochemical makeup, a traumatic experience, or a health diagnosis, have lost the will to live. That does not mean that we shouldn’t keep going.

It should not have been Brittany’s decision if “now doesn’t seem like the right time to die.” And to regard it in such a way seems to be taking quite the cavalier attitude at that.

And for a group to call itself Compassion & Choices could hardly be dressing up the issue anymore. Suicide is tragic enough. But to cloak it in terms of “compassion” and a “choice” distorts the issue of death even more.

To have one be “assisted” in their death is an evil in many ways. Death, especially suicide, is rightly regarded as a tragedy. But to “assist” one in her suicide is not a form of dignity, but of manipulation when it comes to preying on the fears of someone who thinks that life is so bad that she has to take the matter of her deaths into her own hands. And what’s worse is she has the help of someone to kill herself.

While some would regard Brittany’s decision as “brave,”  perhaps greater attention should be focused on those who are brave in that despite an illness or condition, and live out the rest of the life that has been given to them.

Death with dignity? Those who truly die with dignity are those who submit themselves to living out their natural life, to see where God, the ways of the universe, whatever you want to believe, takes them. There are those who courageously begged Brittany not to take matters into her own hands, and they will die with dignity.

Normally when someone is a suicide risk, we get her help immediately. Whether or not she has terminal brain cancer or lives in the state of Oregon should not matter. What real dignity means is that this person is worthy enough to continue living in the world. When someone like Brittany Maynard announces suicide in such a public way, she practically becomes a spokesperson.

May God have mercy on Brittany Maynard’s soul, for all who have taken their own lives, and for all involved in this debate on death. Let us all recognize though, regardless of our opinion about Brittany’s decision to end her life, that it was nevertheless a tragic move.

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