The following videos tell the story of Brittany Maynard, a young woman who, faced with a terminal brain cancer diagnosis, chose to become an advocate for medical aid in dying.
The first, from The Brittany Fund, tells her story in her own words and those of her family:
The second, from Compassion & Choices and recorded shortly before her death, is in the form of testimony to the California legislature. Because the state did not have a Death with Dignity Law, she had to go to Oregon in order to exercise her right to control her death. In 2016, California passed the End of Life Option Act, in part because of Brittany’s story and advocacy:
Let’s be logical. We want doctors to be healers, not killers. But that’s what assisted suicide does. In fact, the American Medical Association rejects physician-assisted suicide in the following terms:
“Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”
In October 2018, the American Academy of Family Physicians adopted a stance of “engaged neutrality” according to the following article, COD Addresses Medical Aid in Dying, Institutional. The AMA’s delegates also recently rejected its stance in opposition and asked their ethics council to revisit the issue.
“During the Oct. 9 [AAFP] business session, delegates approved a substitute resolution offered by the Reference Committee on Health of the Public and Science to adopt a position of “engaged neutrality” toward medical aid in dying as a personal end-of-life decision in the context of the physician-patient relationship.”
During the [AAFP] HOPS reference committee hearing on Oct. 8, delegates provided testimony on medical aid in dying, including some personal experiences.
General registrant Ravi Grivois-Shah, M.D., of Tucson, Ariz., spoke in support of one of the medical aid in dying resolutions, explaining that his mother had passed away two weeks before the conference from complications of breast cancer.
Grivois-Shah’s mother entered hospice care just before Labor Day weekend and they discussed how she wanted to die.
“I was shocked that she was open to talking about taking control of how she would end her life if it got to that point,” he said.
However, Grivois-Shah continued, medical aid in dying isn’t currently legal in Arizona.
“But I really wished she had that option, to be able to talk to her physician and have more control over the situation,” he said. “I hope that in the future, I can have that control of the situation with my father, for myself and my family. I think this is a personal decision that everyone needs to decide on their own when the time comes, what the right choice is for them.”
New Jersey AFP delegate Arnold Pallay, M.D., of Montville, also spoke in support of the resolution, saying that 10 minutes before coming to the hearing, he received a phone call from a patient of more than 25 years who was in the hospital in the end stage of his life and was calling to ask permission to let go.
“We have to understand the power of family physicians,” he said. “We have an ethical, personal role in our patients’ lives. We can’t be opposed to something that some people think is valuable. I think we have to have a more neutral stake in this difficult area.”