By Justin Katz | firstname.lastname@example.org
Brittany Maynard’s choice to end her life through a cocktail of lethal medications has sparked a debate across the nation. However, students at Flagler College see Maynard’s decision as a personal one.
In the last few months of her life, Maynard became an advocate for Death With Dignity, an organization that offers terminal patients the option to end their lives. Maynard took up this cause months ago after being diagnosed with stage four brain cancer.
Flagler College alum Blake-Alexandria Collins said the controversy stems from other factors.
“They notice because of her age,” Collins said. “A huge part of the public voice is [that] she was very vocal and public about her intentions.”
Although age is not what grabbed Collins’ attention, Maynard is not a typical advocate for Death with Dignity. The organization reports that out of the 752 Oregonians who have used the law to die, less than one percent were between 25 and 34 years old.
“Terminal illness is not age-restricted,” Collins said. “I don’t particularly take notice of how young she was. How sick she was is a different story.”
Collins thinks there is not enough of a focus on how Maynard spent the last few years of her life as an activist, wife and daughter who knew she was on borrowed time. Instead, the public choose to boil it down to ethics or religion.
“It’s disrespectful to both Brittany and her remaining family,” Collins said.
Flagler College senior Matt Belvedere took a similar stance.
“The fact she was so young doesn’t affect me much,” Belvedere said. “She had come to terms with her predicament and I think it was an admirable conclusion.”
Belvedere recognizes how financially crippling medical bills can be when dealing with illness. He sees her choice as she did: a personal decision.
“If this is a free nation, then you should be free to take your own life,” Belvedere said.
Senior Joseph Bushe has an identical opinion.
“It’s a consenting adult’s prerogative to go whatever way they please,” Bushe said.
Bushe believes that Maynard’s death has been overblown by news coverage.
“I could assume it’s the same as everything that gets hyped,” Bushe said. “People injecting their personal beliefs into the moralities and choices of others.”
Ultimately, Death with Dignity seeks to give their clients a choice.
“The worst thing about illness is not that you feel bad,” said David Mayo, member of the board of directors of Death with Dignity National Center. “It’s that it takes control of your life.”
That control was spoken about by Maynard, who often said she didn’t want to suffer the inevitable effects that her disease would bring. Although Maynard had at one point said she would not end her life on Nov. 1, Collins thinks that whatever her reasons were for taking the medication, one thing was clear.
“The three people who probably understand most are her parents and her husband,” Collins said. “From how she spoke of them, I can’t imagine she left the world without all three of them supporting her entirely.”