The tragic case of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, the Bay Area newlywed who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer and moved to Oregon in order to commit assisted suicide with dignity, has motivated the California legislature once again to move on new death-with-dignity legislation that would mirror what already exists in Oregon, Washington, and Vermont. As CBS 5 reports, Maynard's mother and husband appeared at the Capitol in Sacramento on Wednesday in order to speak in favor of the new bill, which would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients who have been given six months, or less, to live.
Maynard's story, via a video about her case, went quickly viral last October, with the help of right-to-die advocacy organization Compassion and Choices. Maynard was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer in April 2014, stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme, suffered debilitating headaches and seizures, and wanted to end her life before losing more brain function and becoming a heavy burden on her family. She chose the date of November 1 to end her life, well before the holidays and shortly after her husband's birthday, spent her last weeks traveling and doing things she wanted to do, and though she had some last-minute misgivings, ultimately went through with the assisted suicide on schedule.
Opponents of such laws cite religious objections and the American Medical Association continues to fear that they could be abused in the cases of the elderly and disabled. The proposed California law would hopefully mitigate those concerns with the provision about six-month prognoses.
California has previously mulled a similar law in the wake of Oregon's Death With Dignity Act, which is now over 20 years old. In 2007 the California legislators rejected a similar proposal. Then in 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the Terminal Patients’ Right to Know End-of-Life Options Act, a bill which had been crafted by Compassion & Choices as part of their lengthy, nationwide campaign for this issue.
If the current bail fails to get off the ground in this legislative session, Compassion & Choices is considering bringing the issue to California voters on the 2016 ballot.
Below, Maynard's mother speaks at a news conference in Sacramento on Wednesday, via KABC/Los Angeles.