NRL News

Brittany Maynard: RIP

by | Nov 3, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

Brittany Maynard

Brittany Maynard

NRL News Today has posted many stories on Brittany Maynard, who after announcing she would commit assisted suicide Saturday, sent out an incredibly powerful video announcing that she had postponed that action. As you no doubt know by now, for whatever combination of reasons, Maynard, who was suffering from terminal cancer, did take her own life Saturday at her home in Portland, Oregon, by ingesting a lethal combination of drugs.

Her last Facebook page post included these words:

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.

Beyond saying a sincere and heartfelt prayer for Maynard and her family, what can (or should) we say about the unfortunate death of this 29-year-old woman?

We will remain angry at Compassion & Choices (previously The Hemlock Society) which exploited her tragedy from beginning to end. Adding insult to injury, notice how it seamlessly links these totally unobjectionable (even laudatory) thoughts

“In Brittany’s memory, do what matters most. And tell those you love how much they matter to you…”

to a fundraising pitch

“We will work to carry on her legacy of bringing end-of-life choice to all Americans”

to quote Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee.

I found a CNN story that ran just after noon today so revealing. The headline is “Maynard’s mourners grieve on social media; assisted suicide critics muted.”

The implication of Ralph Ellis’ story that those who counseled Maynard to not take her own life were critical of her. That simply was not the case. Our criticism was directed squarely at the vultures who nest at Compassion & Choices

For this young woman we felt only compassion and concern that she would make a decision that was wrong for her and would be exploited by the doctor assisted-suicide movement to attempt to take down laws that have many purposes but especially to prevent the weak from the strong.

One other very indicative comment from the CNN story. “People who voiced opposition to assisted suicide often gave religious reasons.” What to make of that?

A couple of things. First, we are talking about matters of life and death and the deliberate decision to take one’s own life in very harrowing circumstances. Would not matters of faith be a common thread? How could they not be?

Second, as always, this is an attempt to turn objections to the latest assault on our traditional understanding—that we don’t, no matter what, assist someone to commit suicide—into essentially nothing more than a religious reflex. But there are a hundred reasons beyond matters of faith why a wide range of people oppose assisted suicide.

As Wesley Smith astutely pointed out,

All major opponents of assisted suicide of whom I am aware make rational, secular, and public policy-related arguments against legalization. They don’t talk religion.

I am a consultant to the Patients Rights Council, perhaps the most prominent nonprofit educational organization opposing assisted suicide. Check its Website: It never mentions religion.

Moreover, in my view, assisted suicide has been primarily thwarted by the disability rights movement, most members of which are distinctly secular, generally liberal politically, and indeed, not pro-life on abortion.

I will end where I began—offering a prayer for Maynard’s family. As I mentioned in my last post, their wellbeing was a very, very high priority for Maynard.

She hoped her mother does not “break down” or “suffer from any kind of depression” and for her husband, “There’s no part of me that wants him to live out the rest of his life just missing his wife.”

Rest in Peace, Brittany Maynard.

Categories: Assisted Suicide