Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Nov
  • 14

Giving suicide a pretty face

Posted By November 14, 2014 | 3:51 pm | Commentary

By Sandra Kucharski

Brittany Maynard, 29 years old and diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, “died with dignity” this week. A statement released by Compassion & Choices says: “She died as she intended – peacefully in her bedroom, in the arms of her loved ones.”
Sounds ideal, doesn’t it?
If we could order up the way we would like to die, wouldn’t that be it … peacefully, in our own bed, surrounded by our loved ones? What Compassion & Choices didn’t report is that in order to die with so-called “dignity” Brittany Maynard had to take a lethal dose of medication prescribed by a physician. In fact, she moved from California to Oregon, where physician-assisted suicide is legal, just to do so.
Compassion & Choices is the leading force behind the push for physician-assisted suicide. It is the metamorphosis of The Hemlock Society that was formed in 1980 touting a person’s right to die. Perhaps because the name was a bit jarring and gave away too much of its real mission, it called itself End-of-Life Choices and then, in 2005, merged with Compassion in Dying to become Compassion & Choices. “Death with dignity,” “aid in dying” are among the current euphemisms they use to mask the hard truth of suicide.
But they sound so helpful and caring, don’t they?
In 2012 physician-assisted suicide was narrowly defeated in Massachusetts. But it won’t be long before it is back. In 2013, Rep. Louis Kafka of Stoughton filed House Bill H 1998, “an act affirming a terminally ill patient’s right to compassionate aid in dying,” which was defeated with the help of Massachusetts Citizens for Life. It is fully expected that Rep. Kafka will file another bill in January 2015. This time around, however, supporters of physician-assisted suicide have a poster child for their cause – Brittany Maynard. In a video she made for Compassion & Choices, she is young, vibrant, poised and articulate. Within three weeks of its posting, over nine million people viewed the video in which she describes receiving her diagnosis. We sympathize with her pain, but disagree with her decision to end her own life. There are so many stories about the impact that final days and years of a person’s life have on others. God is the author of all life and only he determines when it ends.
Maynard’s family declined to speak to the media after her death and asked instead for contributions to the newly established Brittany Maynard Fund. Compassion & Choices said donations would go toward efforts to implement right-to-die laws across the nation. In fact, their website is already claiming a victory in Pennsylvania, citing a Philadelphia Daily News editorial endorsing “death with dignity” legislation, thanks to Brittany Maynard.
So now, we are on notice, in case you had any doubt. Physician-assisted suicide is coming back to Massachusetts and this time the emphasis will not be on compassionately relieving the pain and suffering of an elderly person so they are not a “burden” to us or to themselves. This time around they will have a young and attractive face for their cause. Her name is Brittany Maynard and they will be very well funded.

– Sandra A. Kucharski is a member of the Diocesan Respect Life Committee and a member of the Respect Life Committee at Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish in Worcester.