SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – For most people, death is something that comes without warning. Hopefully peacefully, in old age. But Brittany Maynard knows exactly when she’ll die. In a little over three weeks, the 29-year-old Oregon woman diagnosed with terminal cancer will take medicine to end her life, at home, surrounded by her husband, mother, and family.
“I can’t even tell you the amount of relief that it provides me to know that I don’t have to die the way that it’s been described to me; that my brain tumor would take me on its own,” Maynard said.
Maynard moved to Oregon to have access to physician-assisted suicide. Here in New England, Vermont was the first state to pass similar legislation.
Back in 2012, Massachusetts voters rejected a “death with dignity” ballot question by 51%. But many western Massachusetts voters think that outcome could be different in the future because of more awareness.
“With social networking and social media, I think if people see these, they can kind of relate. Eventually, everyone is going to have someone who has a terminal illness,” said Max Christensen from Springfield.
“There are too many people who think they should dictate what you do. The choices you make. America was built on freedom of speech, freedom of choice. One of those choices is how I live my life and how I choose to die,” said Charles Epstein from East Longmeadow.
Earlier this year, a poll by Purple Strategies showed that 70% of Massachusetts voters want more options at the end of life. That’s a 10% increase from 2012.
Assisted suicide, where the physician or third party gives the patient the means to end his/her own life, is legal in the states of Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Vermont. It is required in these states that the patient be of sound mind when requesting assisted suicide, as confirmed by a doctor and other witnesses, and that the patient be diagnosed with a terminal illness.