Right to Die Issues Create Ethical Dilemmas

Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old terminally ill woman suffering from brain cancer, ended her life in Oregon. Maynard was diagnosed with a brain tumor and said she planned to take prescribed medication to die when her pain became unbearable. A nonprofit group called Compassion and Choices posted a message on Facebook that said Maynard passed peacefully in her bed surrounded by family and loved ones. In the weeks leading up to her death, Brittany Maynard became the face of the nation’s right-to-die debate. Critics called her case exploitation. Advocates argued she was making her mark. Maynard said she just wanted to leave a worthy legacy. And now that she’s gone, the trail she left behind may bring the physician-assisted suicide movement — and the deep divide about it — to a younger generation. Arthur Caplan, of New York University’s Division of Medical Ethics, wrote that because Maynard was “young, vivacious, attractive, and a very different kind of person” from the average patient seeking physician-assisted suicide, she “changes the optics of the debate.” In Oregon, the median age of someone who uses the state’s law to die is 71.

Currently, a similar law does not exist in Nevada but there are several proposed statues that may result in a change in the future.