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Posthumous Brittany Maynard video supports aid-in-dying bill

March 26, 2015

SACRAMENTO, California (AP) — In a video recorded 19 days before Brittany Maynard took life-ending drugs, she tells California lawmakers that no one should have to leave home to legally kill themselves under the care of a doctor.

Maynard was a 29-year-old California woman with brain cancer who moved to Oregon to legally end her life with the help of doctors. Her story drew widespread attention and has since recharged legislative efforts in California and elsewhere to make it legal for terminally ill patients to kill themselves with life-ending drugs.

“Unfortunately, California law prevented me from getting the end-of-life option I deserved,” she said in the recording released Wednesday, hours ahead of the first state Senate committee hearing on the issue.

The 29-year-old woman had terminal brain cancer and moved with her family to Oregon before killing herself last year. Lawmakers gave initial approval, 5-2, after a moving debate before a packed Capitol room.

Her death drew widespread attention and recharged legislative efforts in California and elsewhere to make it legal for terminally ill patients to kill themselves with drugs.

“No one should have to leave their home and community for peace of mind, to escape suffering, and to plan for a gentle death,” Maynard said In the video.

The bill being considered in California is expected to face a strong challenge led by medical and religious groups. Opponents see huge consequences for allowing doctors to prescribe fatal drugs.

Advocates for aid-in-dying laws say legislators in at least 17 U.S. states have introduced similar measures this year. However, proposals in at least four states have already stalled for the year and many have not yet received a hearing.

Past proposals have foundered in statehouses amid emotionally charged debates and strong opposition.

Some medical groups say prescribing life-ending medication violates a doctor’s oath to do no harm, while some advocates for people with disabilities fear some sick patients would feel pressured to end their lives to avoid being a financial burden.

Maynard’s husband, Dan Diaz, who introduced the video during a press conference, said he respects those who disagree with him and his wife, but aid-in-dying should be an option for all Californians.

“Even the staunchest of opponents might say, ‘Well, I may not use it, but I would certainly want the option,’” Diaz said as he choked back tears.

The practice is legal in five states, including Oregon, where Maynard moved before she took her life Nov. 1. The other states are Montana, New Mexico, Vermont and Washington.

Before her death, Maynard made her case public with online videos that were viewed tens of millions of times.

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