Earlier this month, 29-year-old Brittany Maynard revealed she was planning to end her own life with the “death with dignity prescription” on November 1.Her choice to take the deadly drug came after finding out she had stage IV glioblastoma multiforme, which usually kills its victims in a matter of months. To access the prescription, Brittany moved from her California home to Oregon, where the lethal pill is legal. She plans to die in her home surrounded by her mother, stepfather, husband and best friend.
Now, many voices are responding and asking Brittany to reconsider, including an ethicist from the University of Chicago and another terminal cancer patient. The ethicist, Dr. Daniel Sulmasy said, “If I were her doctor I would certainly try to talk her out of it. I would try to tell her what the opportunities are for her to live to the fullest possible extent that she can even when she is dying.”
The most recent response has been from Joni Eareckson Tada, who after a tragic diving accident in 1967 became a quadriplegic at the young age of 17. She is internationally known as an advocate for the disabled and is a breast cancer survivor as well.
“Like many, my heart broke when I watched Brittany’s video in which she outlined her plans to die through physician-assisted suicide. No one — absolutely no one — welcomes the pain that dealing with a terminal disease invariably brings, and it’s clear that this young woman is firm in her convictions.
But if I could park my wheelchair beside her, I would tell her how the love of Jesus has sustained me through my chronic pain, quadriplegia and cancer. I don’t want her to wake up on the other side of her tombstone only to face a dark, grim existence without life and joy; that is, without God. There’s only one person who has transformed the landscape of life-after-death, and that is Jesus, the One who conquered the grave, opening the path to life eternal. Three grams of phenobarbital in the veins will only provide a temporary reprieve. It is not the answer for the most important passage of her life.
The hours are ticking away; please, Brittany, open your heart to the only One who can do something about your pain and your death. Life is the most irreplaceable and fundamental condition of the human experience, and I implore you to take a long, hard look at the consequences of your decision which is so fatal, and worst of all, so final.”