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california laws do not allow death by dignity •

The touching story of deceased cancer patient Brittany Maynard has evolved with a release of a video taken 19 days before her decision to end her life by assisted medical care. The 29-year-old Californian was suffering from a terminal illness, being diagnosed with brain cancer in an aggressive state on the first day of 2014. Her form of cancer was in an advanced state, currently without any cure, and Brittany was told that she had approximately 6 more months before the disease would cause her death.

Brittany had decided that she wanted to end her life in a gentle way, assisted by a doctor in the comfort of her own home with her family. “I want to leave this Earth in my home, in the arms of my husband and my parents,” Brittany stated in the recent video, regarding her right to choose her fate.

Ever since she found out about the disease, Brittany had been firmly against prolonged suffering and, ultimately, death due to the incurable illness.  Unfortunately, Brittany and her family lived in California, where the law does not authorize medical practice of aid in dying. Only 5 states in America allow such a procedure: Washington, Montana, Vermont, New Mexico and Oregon, where Brittany moved with her family so she could end her life in peace.

In her video, Brittany continues to explain what Death with Dignity involves. These laws “give mentally competent, terminally ill adults the option to request life-ending medication that they can choose to ingest if their dying process becomes unbearable.” She also stressed upon the audacity of the government to make decisions or limit options for patients who are facing terminal illnesses such as her brain cancer and calls for changes in legislation.

Ever since her assisted suicide, the subject of Death with Dignity has received a great amount of attention, not only from California officials, but also across the nation. Her case determined various legislative efforts in states all around America, including California, in order to “cure” the situation.

Much controversy has surrounded the subject ever since it received media attention. Multiple religious and medical groups are opposed to such a proposal, saying that such a bill would violate the oath of a doctor to not harm a patient.

Brittany firmly concludes her video with a strong call to action: “As elected officials, you have the power to make this happen. Please, take action.  (…) Please make Death with Dignity an American health care choice.”

Photo credits: NBC News

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