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Brittany Maynard's Decision to Die with Dignity

Brittany Maynard with her Great Dane, Charlie. Photo by Dan Diaz

A young woman named Brittany Maynard, like so many others, has a compelling story to share. She is bravely facing her death with dignity and control, and when the time is right, she may choose to hasten her own death. If you're not from Oregon, you might wonder how she can do that. In fact, our phones have been steadily ringing due to callers wanting to learn more about Death with Dignity.

In Oregon, Death with Dignity has been legal for 20 years. The Oregon Death with Dignity Act allows mentally competent, terminally ill adults with six months or fewer to live the right to request medication to hasten their deaths. Once a person completes the request process and receives the prescribed medication, it's fully in the patient's hands to decide whether or when to take the medication, and about a third of the people who request the prescribed medication never take it.

Our hearts go out to Brittany and her family. She and her husband were trying for a family when the news came. After suffering from crippling headaches for months, she learned she had brain cancer in January, 2014. Hardly a year after getting married and 29 years old—her whole life ahead of her—her life was turned upside down in a moment.

Read more: Brittany Maynard's Decision to Die with Dignity

This Week in the Movement

Nylah Kitty, check out the rest of the internet famous cats purriodic table!

Throughout the week, we keep people up-to-date about the Death with Dignity movement and other topics related to end-of-life care through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Below are highlights from the last couple of weeks.

Efforts regarding Death with Dignity:

Read more: This Week in the Movement

Goodbye to Jumpy: Lessons for the Health System

Hamster care of cdrussorusso on flicker

This article by Janice Lynch Schuster was originally published on American Society on Aging's Aging Today, and is republished with permission by the author. Janice hosted a discussion about this article during our #DWDchat on Thursday. All are welcome to join our weekly, one-hour Twitter chats each Thursday at 4:00pmPT/7:00pmET.

Janice Lynch Schuster is the co-author of Handbook for Mortals: Guidance for People Facing Serious Illness (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011). She is a senior writer for the Altarum Institute in Washington, D.C.

Read more: Goodbye to Jumpy: Lessons for the Health System

This Week in the Movement

Quote by Jessica Hische

Throughout the week, we keep people up-to-date about the Death with Dignity movement and other topics related to end-of-life care through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Below are highlights from the last several weeks.

Efforts regarding Death with Dignity:

Read more: This Week in the Movement

A Lesson from Joan

Joan and Melissa Rivers

Joan Rivers—love her or hate her—was a larger than life personality. She bucked the notion that women can't be funny and paved the way for many other female comedians to step into the limelight. Tina Fey, a comedy superstar in her own right, reflected on Rivers' influence recently in an interview during the Toronto Film Festival, "Whether that was her intention or not she definitely opened doors for other women in comedy."

Rivers saw no topic as taboo, and contrary to many Americans, she spoke quite openly about death, dying, and what she wanted for her funeral as she did in this recording:

When I die (and yes, Melissa, that day will come; and yes, Melissa, everything's in your name), I want my funeral to be a huge showbiz affair with lights, cameras, and action...I want Craft services, I want paparazzi and I want publicists making a scene! I want it to be Hollywood all the way. Don't give me some Rabbi mumbling on; I want Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents. I want to look gorgeous, better dead than I do alive. I want to be buried in a Valentino gown and I want Harry Winston to make me a toe tag. And I want a wind machine so strong that even in the casket, my hair will be blowing more than Beyonce's on stage.

Read more: A Lesson from Joan

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Defend dignity. Take action.

You are the key to ensuring well-crafted Death with Dignity laws for all Americans. With your financial and volunteer help, the Death with Dignity National Center, a 501(c)(3), non-partisan, nonprofit organization, has been the leading advocate in the Death with Dignity movement. Individual contributions helped us pass new Death with Dignity laws in Washington and Vermont, defend the Oregon law, and provide education and outreach programs for the vitality of the Death with Dignity movement.

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