Keep Brittany Maynard's Legacy Alive and Legalize Physician-Assisted Suicide

It's as happy an ending as you can have to a very sad story: A terminally ill woman who has chosen to die November 1, scratches the final item off her bucket list.

"This week, my family and I traveled to the Grand Canyon, thanks to the kindness of Americans around the country who came forward to make my 'bucket list' dream come true," Brittany Maynard, 29, posted on her personal website on Oct. 24.

Suffering with a brain tumor that progressed into glioblastoma multiforme, the deadliest form of cancer, Maynard was given less than 14 months to live, and doctors told her that her death would be slow and painful.

Indeed, since her diagnosis, Maynard has suffered excruciating headaches, seizures, neck pain, and even temporarily lost the ability to speak. She decided she didn't want to suffer anymore, and she wanted to choose when it was her time to die. Her family moved to Oregon, where the state's "Death with Dignity Act" allows people to choose to die using medication. Maynard will die on November 1 in her bedroom surrounded by friends and family.

Unfortunately for most terminally ill patients around the country, the right to die through doctor assisted suicide is illegal. When our pets face a terminal illness and are in pain, we have the right to euthanize them and end their suffering. As anyone who has even been through this will tell you, it's a very unpleasant scenario, but it's the right thing to do. For animals it's legal; for human beings, its murder.

We refuse to allow animals to suffer yet we are committed to making sure people die naturally no matter how much misery they must endure. Heroes like the late Dr. Jack Kevorkian were vilified and thrown in jail for helping people escape their suffering. The delusion is we don't own our own bodies and lives. Critical thinking says that people should have 100 percent control over their own decisions as long as those decisions don't violate the rights of others. This is 4th grade logic our elected officials are apparently incapable of comprehending.

Maynard said, "Sadly, it is impossible to forget my cancer. Severe headaches and neck pain are never far away, and unfortunately the next morning (after her Grand Canyon trip), I had my worst seizure thus far."

Maynard is the classic example that when we've had enough and the suffering is too great, we should be allowed to leave this earth with dignity, surrounded by loved ones and in a very peaceful manner.

What's holding back physician-assisted suicide to become the law of the land? For one, the Church. In the Roman Catholic Church, suicide is a sin because only God has the authority to end a human life. No evidence exists to support this claim, yet it's the undercurrent of the laws banning assisted suicide.

It's time for thinking people to stand up and start pushing back on issues that involve human suffering. If someone chooses to believe that God wants her to suffer through a terminal illness that's her decision, but when you force the rest of us to obey laws based on evidence-less beliefs it's wrong and needs to be stopped.

Unfortunately, the church isn't the only powerful group protesting assisted suicide. There are many physicians who are banding together to fight physician-assisted suicide as well. Once again, here's another powerful group of people who used to have far more clout in society than they have now, due to education and information available to the masses. Critical thinking on this is simple: if physician-assisted suicide violates the individual physician's belief system, he shouldn't be forced to perform this service. For physicians who believe it's the right thing to do, they should be able to do it.

This whole argument boils down to a simple premise: who is in charge of our lives? Doctors? Politicians? Religious leaders? Or Us? Are we so feeble minded that we cannot be trusted to be responsible for our own existence? The answer is obviously no, yet that's exactly what the people in power would have us believe. They brainwash us to believe we need their laws, dogma and leadership to live our lives so they can exert their control.

The states have the power to allow and regulate assisted suicide or to prohibit it, and with enough pressure from critical thinkers we will someday have the freedom to end our lives with dignity. If enough critical thinkers band together, someday we'll be able to live and die on our own terms.

While Brittany Maynard's story is extremely sad because no one should die at the young age of 29, let's hope her legacy lives on and that one day all Americans will have the right to physician-assisted suicide if they choose.