Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman diagnosed with incurable brain cancer, committed assisted suicide at her home in Portland, Oregon on Saturday evening by swallowing a fatal dose of barbiturates.
She had previously acquired the drugs legally by prescription under Oregon's controversial assisted suicide law.
“Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love,” she wrote on Facebook. “The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”
Maynard rocketed into international headlines early in October when she released a video, in conjunction with the assisted suicide advocacy organization, Compassion and Choices, announcing her intention to end her own life under Oregon’s assisted suicide law on Nov. 1 – two days after her husband’s birthday. That video has since been viewed over 9 million times.
But opponents of assisted suicide took heart earlier this week when Brittany released another video, which had been shot about two weeks previous, suggesting that she might not go through with the suicide – at least not on the date specified.
“It doesn’t seem like the right time,” she said in that video, suggesting that her health was holding out, and she was still enjoying her life too much to end it.
“I still feel good enough, and I still have enough joy, and I still laugh and smile with my family and friends enough that it doesn’t seem like the right time right now,” Brittany had said. “But it will come, because I feel myself getting sicker. It’s happening each week.”
In the second video, Brittany had also revealed that her goal in publicizing her case was to enact “positive change” by passing right-to-die laws nationwide.
However, relatives told NBCNews that Brittany was “devastated” that some media outlets took her second video as a sign that she had changed her views on assisted suicide.
In a statement following Brittany's death, Compassion and Choices (formerly The Hemlock Society), said that Brittany had made “a well thought out and informed choice to Die With Dignity in the face of such a terrible, painful, and incurable illness.”
Opponents of assisted suicide mourned Brittany's death, and criticized the manner in which her illness and death were used, via a well-coordinated media campaign, to promote the agenda of the euthanasia and assisted suicide lobby.
“We are saddened by the fact that this young woman gave up hope, and now our concern is for other people with terminal illnesses who may contemplate following her example,” said Janet Morana, the Executive Director of Priests for Life, in a statement. “Our prayer is that these people will find the courage to live every day to the fullest until God calls them home. Brittany’s death was not a victory for a political cause. It was a tragedy, hastened by despair and aided by the culture of death invading our country.”
Brittany was diagnosed with a brain tumor in January and given 10 years to live after years of debilitating headaches. Months later, however, she found out that the brain cancer had progressed much more rapidly than doctors anticipated, and that she likely only had about six months.
She and her husband soon thereafter moved to Oregon to take advantage of the state's assisted suicide law.
Since the state legalized assisted suicide by enacting the Death with Dignity Act – on October 27, 1997 – the number of assisted suicides has steadily increased from 16 in 1998 to 85 in 2012.