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My name is Makaylee! I am going to be a senior majoring in Social Media Design Management. I am apart of the Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority chapter on campus! I love thrifting, photography, skiing and going...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Sal Wiertella March 1, 2024

Maynard suicide sparks ethics debate

Suicide is a tricky subject to talk about. When wading into the subject of assisted suicide, the ground becomes even more uneven. On Sunday, Nov. 1, 29-year-old Brittany Maynard sparked national debate over the subject of assisted suicide once more.

Savanna Hennig
Savanna Hennig

Only in very few cases am I a supporter of assisted suicide, and if I were in Maynard’s position, I would not have taken my life.

Maynard was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, stage four glioblastoma, last spring. Her doctor told her that she had about six months to live as an estimate.

“People don’t survive this disease. Not yet,” she said in an interview with People magazine. She ultimately weighed her options: Dying from the cancer or choosing to take her own life.

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Under her decision of assisted suicide Maynard moved to Oregon, one of the four states that supports the Death with Dignity Act. Despite being talked to by several ethicists, terminally ill cancer patients and pro-life supporters, Maynard took her own life. She decided against chemotherapy, which could have prolonged her life.

“Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more,” she wrote on Facebook.

“The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”

Over the past few days, social media groups supporting her choice and her family have popped up, sending positive feedback.

But inevitably, there’s also the side that disagrees with the choice the young woman made, spitting harsh Bible verses and God-filled phrases on the support page. Simply adding gasoline to the fire between pro-lifers and pro-choicers.

I’m a supporter of assisted suicide when the individual is completely immobile and has lost all brain function.

My support comes based on a question of when a life loses quality. At what point in a declining life is the person not truly living anymore?

I respect Maynard’s decision to take her own life, and I’m not going to shout about whether she was right or wrong. I don’t have the right to tell her or her family what should be done when I truly don’t know what it was like to be in her shoes.

However, I don’t think I would ever make that choice for myself. I try to always have a positive outlook on life. Regardless of what happens, I always strive for a potentially good outcome. It becomes a game of “Well, I did break my arm and lose my car but at least I’m still alive.” Of course, I’ve never been in the scenario where I have terminal cancer.

Brittany Maynard had a family that she left behind, and friends that won’t see her again. If I was a mother, I would not want to ever see my child say goodbye to the world via a Facebook update.

Saying goodbye to your child seems like it would be more scary than the disease itself.

“It’s not my job to tell her how to live,” Maynard’s mother, Debbie, said in one of the videos. “And it’s not my job to tell her how to die.”

Before taking her own life, Brittany Maynard traveled across the country to places she always wanted to see, such as the Grand Canyon.

She was still able to walk, able to see, able to breathe and had a family that loved her. To me, that’s a valuable life to have. Some people aren’t so lucky.

Under the Death with Dignity Act, people can and will choose to take their life before the disease takes them.

However, absolutely no one is going to call them weak if they choose to fight the disease, or simply wait until the disease takes them.

People start to have problems if you take the easy way out. I would much rather wait and make my life count than end it before the last possible moment.

I fear with the Brittany Maynard story and the rising support of assisted suicide that people are going to be more open to suicide as an option­—and with that, I fear that people will lose a sense of value for the life that they have, regardless of how much time they have left.

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