Twenty-nine year old Brittany Maynard plans to commit suicide on November 1. In January she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and told she had six months to live. Soon after, Maynard and her husband decided to move to Oregon, one of the states that allow physician assisted suicide.
It’s always tragic when a person is diagnosed with a terminal illness, especially one so young. It is never easy to suffer or to watch someone we love suffer. However, Mrs. Maynard is making a choice that will affect so many more vulnerable people than just those in her family. The choice to take a life — even one’s own — is never morally acceptable, and it has an affect on those who suffer similar circumstances and are looking for hope and meaning.
Contrast Mrs. Maynard with Maggie Karner. Mrs. Karner was recently diagnosed with the same type of brain cancer. However, as a committed Christian, she is leaving the time of her death in God’s hands. She recently wrote: “...assisted suicide isn’t for me. As my three daughters care for me, just as I once cared for my paraplegic father, they are receiving a rich, deeply spiritual lesson in compassion, selflessness, and human mortality.”
This ethic of caring is often forgotten in the euthanasia debate. Yes, dying is difficult and can be painful, but it can also be an opportunity to draw deep love, compassion and caring out of others. We must pray that Brittany Maynard sees the deeper purpose to her life and suffering and that she has a change of heart with regard to choosing her death.