PORTLAND, Ore. (AP/PIX11) — Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old woman who became the public face of the death with dignity movement, was criticized by a Vatican official who called her decision to end her life in wake of a terminal diagnosis “absurd.”
Maynard died on Nov. 1 using an Oregon law that lets terminally ill people use lethal medications prescribed by a doctor. She had moved from California to Oregon with her husband of two years precisely because of the state's law.
The Vatican's top bioethics official on Tuesday said he was not judging anyone. But in the same breath said Maynard's act is "in itself reprehensible" and the gesture should be "condemned."
In an interview with Italian news outlet ANSA, Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, described assisted suicide as "an absurdity."
Shortly after Maynard married her husband in 2012, she began experiencing debilitating headaches and was ultimately diagnosed with Glioblastoma multiforme, the deadliest form of brain cancer that, even with treatment, gives patients just about 14 months to live.
When doctors told Brittany her death would likely be slow and painful as the tumor continued to grow, she opted to choose her own ending.
And she stopped short of calling her decision suicide.
“There is not a cell in my body that is suicidal or that wants to die,” Maynard told People.com. “I want to live. I wish there was a cure for my disease but there’s not. … Being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying.”
Maynard shared her decision and documented her journey while advocating for Portland-based Compassion & Choices.
A board member of the group, Rev. Dr. Ignacio Castuera, responding to the Vatican official’s comment that Maynard was not Catholic and it would be wrong to impose a set of religious beliefs on people who do not share them.