Joni Eareckson Tada Says Brittany Maynard Critics Should Not Attack Her, But Right-to-Die Organizations

Joni Eareckson Tada
Joni Eareckson Tada

Joni Eareckson Tada, an international advocate for people with disabilities, had unsuccessfully pleaded with Brittany Maynard to reconsider ending her life under Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act. Maynard’s decision to end her suffering from terminal, inoperable brain cancer on her own terms prompted critics to lash out at her decision. But Tada, a quadriplegic and breast cancer survivor, says the focus should not be on Maynard or her family, but on the organization that used the 29-year-old as “a poster child” for its right-to-die cause.

In a CP Newsroom discussion this week, Tada, who has been a quadriplegic for 48 years, reminded those critical of Maynard’s decision “that it was ‘death with dignity’ advocates, like Compassion & Choices, who drove the attention surrounding Brittany.”

“They used Brittany’s family, they used her as a poster child for their cause. So I don’t fault Brittany so much or her family so much. They were persuaded by a strong right-to-die advocate group to not only seek physician-assisted suicide, but to go public,” said Tada.

Maynard was diagnosed with late-stage glioblastoma multiforme, an extremely aggressive form of brain cancer, in the spring of this year, not long after getting married. After moving from California to Oregon, one of five states that allow for physician-assisted suicide, Maynard linked up with Compassion & Choices, which describes itself as “the nation’s leading end-of-life choice advocacy organization.”

Compassion & Choices, which counts among its board of directors the first National Chaplain for Planned Parenthood, helped Maynard put out a series of videos in which she discussed her terminal and painful condition and difficult choice to pursue ending her life. She insisted that she was not “suicidal,” but only wanted to control the circumstances under which she would inevitably die.

“I don’t want to die but I am dying,” Maynard told People magazine. “My [cancer] is going to kill me, and it’s a terrible, terrible way to die. So to be able to die with my family with me, to have control over my own mind, which I would stand to lose — to go with dignity is less terrifying.”

Maynard, who had been experiencing “increasingly frequent and longer seizures, severe head and neck pain, and stroke-like symptoms,” according to Compassion & Choices, “chose to abbreviate the dying process by taking the aid-in-dying medication she had received months prior” as her symptoms became more severe. “She died as she intended – peacefully in her bedroom, in the arms of her loved ones,” the nonprofit stated in its newsbrief on her Nov. 1 passing.

Compassion & Choices has continued using Maynard’s case, and her death, to advocate for the right-to-die movement. On Nov. 19, the day on which Maynard would have turned 30, the organization released a video prominently featuring previously recorded segments of the Oregon woman advocating for the “right” to physician-assisted suicide and its further legalization.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: The Christian Post
Nicola Menzie

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