Monday, June 22, 2015

A humane way to end life

Washington Post editorial

LESS THAN a month before she died, Brittany Maynard posted a video explaining her decision to move to Oregon to take advantage of the state’s law allowing terminally ill people to end their own lives. Maynard, 29, had been diagnosed with an aggressive and terminal brain cancer and said she wanted to die on her own terms. “I hope to pass in peace,” she said. Her video, viewed more than 9 million times in the first month, and her death, after she ingested medication prescribed by a doctor, helped fuel a national movement for “death with dignity.”

In addition to Oregon, four other states — Washington, Vermont, New Mexico and Montana — allow physicians to provide aid in dying. After Ms. Maynard’s death in November, lawmakers in more than 20 states and the District — backed by advocates Compassion and Choices, and the Death with Dignity National Center — introduced end-of-life legislation. In many cases, the bills are pending; in states where they didn’t advance, including Maryland, lawmakers vowed to try again. A recent Gallup poll showed nearly seven in 10 Americans agree that terminally ill adults should have the right to medical assistance in bringing about a peaceful death.

Closely watched are events in California. Ms. Maynard lived there before moving to Oregon and in her final days she videotaped a plea to lawmakers to adopt a law similar to Oregon’s and lobbied California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) by phone. After the state medical association recently dropped its long-standing opposition, a measure passed the state Senate and is set for a hearing this month in the lower house; a lawsuit — a route successfully used in New Mexico and Montana — also is being pressed with the claim that both the state constitution and existing state law allow the medical practice of aid in dying.

(More here.)

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