The case of Brittany Maynard — the 29-year-old woman with brain cancer electing to undergo physician-assisted suicide Nov. 1 — has made headlines across the country, and moved the debate over assisted suicide back into the national picture. In a HuffPost Live interview Friday, renown surgeon and author Atul Gawande said Maynard's plight is an indictment of America's health system as a whole.
"What I think it indicates is that our health system has failed Brittany Maynard," Gawande told host Alyona Minkovski. "She can't count on the idea that, as her symptoms progress, that she would be prevented from having suffering, that she could count on clinicians and others... that her priorities will be met."
Maynard, diagnosed with a type of brain tumor called Glioblastoma multiforme, moved from California to Oregon with her mother, stepfather and husband in order to take advantage of the state's laws allowing physician assisted-suicide. She plans to take the prescribed lethal drugs on Nov. 1 in her bedroom, with her family beside her.
"Can you blame her, when it's probably true in many instances, that we're not going to live up to that?" Gawande said. "My father was dying of brain cancer and ended up in the hospital and they wouldn't give him pain medication when he would ask for it, because they were afraid it would knock him out."
"I think it's an indictment of where we are," he concluded.