The woman who chose to end her life after being diagnosed with a rare and debilitating form of brain cancer is still fighting for the right to death with dignity after her own passing on November 1. Brittany Maynard chose the date to end her suffering by ingesting prescribed barbiturates and would have turned 30 on November 19, but a video released by aid-in-dying advocates is helping her keep up the fight.
In the video, recorded on August 2 and released on her birthday, Maynard urges others to campaign for death with dignity laws for the entire country. “I hope for the sake of other American citizens — all these people I’m speaking to that I’ve never met, that I’ll never meet — that this choice be extended to you… That we mobilize. That we vocalize. That we start to talk about it,” said Maynard in the video.
Maynard’s choice to end her life in the face of a painful terminal illness has prompted responses from the Vatican. Pope Francis reportedly called assisted suicide “a false sense of compassion” in a recent meeting with the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors. Meanwhile, Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said on November 3, just days after Maynard’s death that her choice to end her life was “reprehensible.” De Paula reportedly said, “We don’t judge people, but the gesture in itself is to be condemned. Assisted suicide is an absurdity. Dignity is something different than putting an end to your own life.”
— NYDN Lifestyle (@NYDNLifestyle) November 18, 2014
Maynard’s mother, Debbi Ziegler, responded to the monsignor’s words with her own statement, believed to be the first from her family since her daughter passed away. “This word was used publicly at a time when my family was tender and freshly wounded. Grieving,” Ziegler wrote. “Such strong public criticism from people we do not know, have never met, is more than a slap in the face. It is like kicking us as we struggle to draw a breath.”