Brittany Maynard's Mother Speaks Out Against Critics of Her Daughter's Decision to Die

Pam WrightLife

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Brittany Maynard's mother, Debbie Ziegler, is speaking out against comments made about her daughter's decision to die.

In particular, she addressed a Vatican official who called terminally ill Maynard's choice "an absurdity" and "reprehensible."

"My 29-year-old daughter's choice to die gently rather than suffer physical and emotional degradation and intense pain does not deserve to be labeled as 'reprehensible' by strangers a continent away who do not know her or the particulars of her situation," Ziegler wrote in a letter released Tuesday by Compassion & Choices.

Maynard, 29, who moved to Oregon with her family because of the state's Death with Dignity Act, legally ended her own life on Nov. 1 with a fatal dose of barbiturates prescribed by a doctor.

Three days later, Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, told the ANSA news agency that "dignity is something other than ending one's own life."

Ziegler took great offense to the Catholic church official's remarks and felt compelled to express her outrage over the comments.

"'Reprehensible' is a word I've used as a teacher to describe the actions of Hitler, other political tyrants and the exploitation of children by pedophiles," wrote the former eighth-grade science teacher.

"As Brittany Maynard's mother, I find it difficult to believe that anyone who knew her would ever select this word to describe her actions," she wrote.

"Brittany was a giver. She was a volunteer. She was a teacher," she wrote. "She was an advocate. She worked at making the world a better place to live."

She also made it known that his comments were inappropriately made so soon following Maynard's passing.

"This word was used publicly at a time when my family was tender and freshly wounded. Grieving," she wrote.

"Such strong public criticism from people we do not know, have never met, is more than a slap in the face," she wrote. "It is like kicking us as we struggle to draw a breath."

Ziegler called on Americans to support her daughter's choice and the right for others like Maynard, who choose to die with dignity.

"I urge Americans to think for themselves," she wrote. "Make your wishes clear while you are competent ... Misguided doctors caught in an aspirational belief that they must extend life, whatever the cost, cause individuals and families unnecessary suffering."

"It's why Brittany started her campaign in the first place," she said.

"Brittany stood up to bullies," she wrote. "She never thought anyone else had the right to tell her how long she should suffer. The right to die for the terminally ill is a human rights issue. Plain and simple."

Pam Wright