Months after she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at age 29, Brittany Maynard chose to end her life on November 2, 2014 pursuant to Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act. Her decision sparked a nationwide controversy about end-of-life decisions. See, for example, Physician-assisted Suicide by John Shotwell, Kentucky.com, Lexington Herald-Leader, November 10, 2014.
The controversy seems to me unwarranted since I find no fault with Brittany’s heartfelt parting message to us: My Right to Die with Dignity at Age 29, CNN Opinion, November 2, 2014. Why should she have to suffer a long, painful, and expensive death because of other people’s religious and ideological beliefs (which she did not share)? Making end-of-life decisions for oneself, after careful consultation with professionals, family and friends, is, or ought to be, a basic human right. Just as troubling, why should she have to move to Oregon, with all its consequent aggravations, in order to act on her decision? What are the legitimate interests of the State, if any, that would justify infringement upon her right to die?