Brittany Maynard, the terminally ill woman who pledged to end her own life under Oregon's Death With Dignity Law, died Saturday in her home from a lethal dose of barbiturates. She was 29.
She posted the following goodbye letter to her Facebook page:
Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more. The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!
Maynard and her husband Dan Diaz drew national attention last month when the couple announced they intended to take advantage of Oregon's Death With Dignity Law, which allows residents with terminal illnesses to take their own lives with lethal drugs provided by a doctor. The couple had relocated to Oregon from California in June specifically for the law, which was adopted in the state in 1994. From the Associated Press:
Oregon was the first U.S. state to make it legal for a doctor to prescribe a life-ending drug to a terminally ill patient of sound mind who makes the request. The patient must swallow the drug without help; it is illegal for a doctor to administer it.
More than 750 people in Oregon used the law to die as of Dec. 31, 2013. The median age of the deceased is 71. Only six were younger than 35.
Maynard was diagnosed with brain cancer—stage 4 glioblastoma—in January of this year and was told she had six months to live. Her decision to end her own life has reignited the right-to-die and assisted suicide debate: In the lead-up to her death, her campaign was criticized as exploitative; her supporters heralded her as brave.
"My glioblastoma is going to kill me and that's out of my control," told People last month. "I've discussed with many experts how I would die from it and it's a terrible, terrible way to die. So being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying."
Sean Crowley, a spokesman for the advocacy group Maynard was working Compassion & Choices, told the Associated Press that in the weeks before her death, Maynard's illness intensified—her seizures grew more severe and frequent, and she began suffering from "stroke-like" symptoms.
"For people to argue against this choice for sick people really seems evil to me," Maynard told People last month. "They try to mix it up with suicide and that's really unfair, because there's not a single part of me that wants to die. But I am dying."
[Image via AP]