Shortly after Brittany Maynard took her own life, a leading Catholic Church official said assisted suicide was “reprehensible” because it violated the dignity of human life.
Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said “dignity is something other than putting an end to one’s own life,” when asked about Maynard’s decision to kill herself. Carrasco de Paula said “Brittany Maynard’s act is in itself reprehensible, but what happened in the consciousness we do not know.”
He cautioned that he was not judging individuals “but the gesture in and of itself should be condemned.”
Now, weeks later, Maynard’s mother, Debbie Ziegler, has issued a statement blasting the Catholic Church — calling the comments “a slap in the face.” As was the case when Maynard took her own life, she worked with the pro-assisted suicide group “Compassion & Choices” the release her statement — feuling further speculation that Maynard’s death was either pushed by or used by the organization to promote legalizing assisted suicide.
Maynard’s mother, Debbie Ziegler, issued a sharp written response Tuesday. She said the comments from Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, came as the family was grieving and were “more than a slap in the face.”
Her response was made through Compassion & Choices, an advocacy group that Maynard worked with in her last days.
Pope Francis denounced the right-to-die movement Saturday, saying euthanasia is a sin against God and creation. Thinking of euthanasia as an act of dignity provides a “false sense of compassion,” Francis said. He didn’t refer specifically to Maynard’s case.
In the letter, Ziegler called her terminally ill daughter’s decision to die a human rights issue. Maynard’s family has since moved back to California.
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“My twenty-nine-year-old daughter’s choice to die gently rather than suffer physical and mental degradation and intense pain does not deserve to be labelled as reprehensible by strangers a continent away who do not know her or the particulars of her situation,” Ziegler wrote.
Ziegler encouraged people to consider all the options when faced with an incurable, debilitating, painful disease.
“The ‘culture of cure’ has led to a fairy tale belief that doctors can always fix our problems,” she wrote.
Tomorrow, when Maynard would have been 30, the pro-euthanasia group will release a video intended to use Maynard’s case to push for legalizing assisted suicide further. The New Jersey legislature has already approved a bill to legalize assisted suicide and a Colorado legislator has proposed one.