Brittany Maynard was a 29 year woman who left this earth over the weekend. Her story made media headlines worldwide. Why? Because she made a choice for medically assisted suicide (legal where she lived) before the cancer in her brain could ravage her mentally and physically before killing her. You can read her story here.
There are a lot of people talking about, and writing about Brittany, and the choice that she very publicly made. Last night when her name flashed through the news headlines my husband turned to me and said ‘what do you think about all that?’. My honest answer was:
“I don’t know”.
When it comes to medically assisted suicide/euthanasia or whatever you what to call it:
On the one hand, I think Brittany made a brave and informed decision. She knew what she could be facing, and she chose to spare herself, and her loved ones from an inevitably grisly death. It’s really important that she was clinically ‘sane’ (clear in judgement) when she made this decision. I don’t judge, it’s not my place. Brittany made an impossibly hard decision in a really awful circumstance. Honestly, I’m not scared of death because I know death in this life, means the beginning of my eternal life, but if I were in Brittany’s shoes, could I say I’m not scared of dying?
On the other hand, I know that as humans, we don’t determine our days on this earth. “Mortals have a limited life span. You’ve already decided how long we’ll live—you set the boundary and no one can cross it” (Job 14:5 MSG). This is, for me, a matter of faith, and my fears have to surrender to that faith. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2Tim 1:7 NLT).
So there is my decision. It would not be the right thing for me.
It’s a murky water generally and a much bigger argument that what is right or wrong depending on the beliefs of each individual. What about the elderly who have come too far to make a ‘sane’ choice? What about children who can’t make the choice for themselves? What about the intellectually challenged without the capacity to make the decision? What about caregivers/family members with selfish motives (caring for a long-term ill loved one is taxing)? If this becomes legal, who makes the decisions, who stands up for the weak, the young, the challenged? Who makes sure this isn’t abused?
This is big. I’m not here to solve the issue. I make the decisions for myself. I don’t judge others. I pray. And I pray that I never have to apply this in my life.
I will come back to Brittany to end this. I think Brittany was brave. At the end of her life, she opened herself to criticism, judgement and contempt. But she stood up and fought for what she believed was right. And she got a lot of people talking openly about a big scary controversial subject. So whether we agree with her decisions or not, I think she did good.