September 27, 2020

BY JUSTIN FORD

If you were told you had six months to live, and you had to endure insufferable pain throughout those six months, what would you do?

Would you decay in a hospital bed, leaving your family behind with the medical bills? Or would you do whatever you could within your legal rights to leave this world?

On Saturday, Nov. 1 Brittany Maynard chose to say goodbye to her family and friends instead of facing months of pain and suffering, hospital beds and hospital bills and the reality of literally withering away. The 29-year-old died in the comfort of her own home in Portland, Ore., surrounded by her loved ones.

Maynard was a resident of California, but she moved to Oregon because of the state’s right-to-die options. Abiding by Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, Maynard chose to have a physician inject her with life-ending medication. These end-of-life options only exist in five U.S. states, and here in Canada, Quebec is the only province to have passed right-to-die legislation.

This young woman was suffering, she had an inoperable brain tumor and could no longer deal with the extreme pain she faced every single day. Yet, this story has been generating controversy since day one.

We, as humans, all have a right to live, so why do we not all have the right to die? People who are terminally ill and going through unbearable pain should have the right to leave this world, regardless of who they are and where they live.

Imagine you’re in a car driving down the highway. Out of nowhere, you’re sideswiped by another vehicle sending you into a frantic tailspin in the middle of the crowded highway. Suddenly, time almost comes to a standstill. You become extremely self-aware as you continue to spin and spin as cars intermittently fly by you at high speeds. Time is barely moving, but you know how this ends. You know the pain that’s just around the corner from the blue Hyundai barrelling toward your driver-side door. You know as soon as the black pickup rear-ends you that your seatbelt is going to dig into you and crush your rib cage. You know once your car has finally spun its way toward the median that your skull will fracture in several places once your head smashes off your steering wheel on impact. You know you’ll bleed out and die before help arrives. You know your life is over.

Maynard’s life-ending car crash came in the form of terminal cancer. Time slowed down and she saw the bleak road ahead as she spun out of control. The pain and suffering had already begun and she had no control over the wheel. Her death certificate was signed, so she ended her life in the most modest and legal way possible.

Her death was engulfed in controversy, but at least she got the delicate conversation started. We should all have the right to die.

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