The debate surrounding the right-to-die movement has been reignited in recent weeks, due to the Brittany Maynard story. Maynard, a death with dignity advocate, died Saturday, November 1st, at age 29. In spring 2014, Maynard was told she had terminal brain cancer and about six months to live. Shortly after, she elected to relocate with her family to Oregon in order to legally seek aid in dying. Oregon, through its Death with Dignity Act, is one of five U.S. states — including Washington, Montana, New Mexico, and Vermont — that allow assisted suicide.
Maynard’s story continued to unfold with a viral video, featuring interviews with Maynard, her husband Dan, and her mother Debbie. (A follow-up video was later posted. You can watch both videos below.) In an October People magazine cover story Maynard heartbreakingly said, “ … there’s not a single part of me that wants to die. But I am dying.”
Opinions were, and continue to be, divided. For healthcare workers the issue can be especially complex. And even more so for Travel Nurses who may find themselves working in various states where laws differ. While also acknowledging “that there are nurses working in states where assisted suicide is legal,” the American Nurses Association wrote in an April 2013 position statement addressing “Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide, and Aid in Dying”:
“The American Nurses Association recognizes that assisted suicide and euthanasia continue to be debated. Despite philosophical and legal arguments in favor of assisted suicide, it is the position of the ANA as specified in The Code that nurses’ participation in assisted suicide and euthanasia is strictly prohibited.”
Conversely, the Death with Dignity National Center provides a resource page for healthcare providers, which focuses on existing Death with Dignity acts, legislative efforts, and FAQs, also providing additional resources. The Brittany Maynard Fund is another site to check out, for those interested in the Brittany Maynard story.
Regardless of one’s belief or view, the Brittany Maynard story is a sad one. And it is important to remember that besides being an activist, Maynard was a daughter, wife, friend, adventurer, and so much more. If you want to learn more about Maynard’s life, check out this People article, “Inside Brittany Maynard’s Vibrant Life.”
In a final message on her Facebook page, Maynard wrote:
“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!”