Aid-in-dying bill gets support in video by woman who died last year

Brittany Maynard testifies for aid-in-dying bill in videotape made before her November death

Four months after her death, Brittany Maynard urged state lawmakers in a video released Wednesday morning to approve a bill that would allow physicians in California to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients to hasten their demise.

Maynard, 29, taped the plea 19 days before her assisted-death in November in Oregon, where she had moved after a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer because that state allows physicians to help hasten deaths.

"I am heartbroken that I had to leave behind my home, my community and my friends in California, but I am dying and refuse to lose my dignity. I refuse to subject myself and my family to purposeless prolonged pain and suffering at the hands of an incurable disease," Maynard says in the video message, which lasts just over 6½ minutes.

The video was aired during a Capitol news conference held by Democratic Sens. Lois Wolk of Davis and Bill Monning of Carmel, who are sponsoring the California End-of-Life Option legislation to allow physican-assisted death in California.

"Making aid in dying a crime creates undue hardships and suffering for many people who are terminally ill and suffering tremendously" Maynard says later in the video. "The laws in California and 45 other states must change to prevent prolonged, involuntary suffering for all terminally ill Americans."

In the video, Maynard is dressed in a blue blouse and white sweater. She talks in a subdued, but at times passionate, voice while urging lawmakers to take action.

The video ends with her saying, "Please make death with dignity an American healthcare choice. "

Maynard and her husband were living in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time of her diagnosis, but California is not one of the five states that allow physicians to assist the death of terminally ill patients.

In addition to the videotape supporting such a law for California, Maynard's husband and mother are expected to submit written testimony from Maynard pm Wednesday afternoon at a hearing of the Senate Health Committee.

“Brittany's story has galvanized support in many ways,” Wolk said. "She believed there should be a fundamental right for a peaceful death surrounded by one's family in one's home."

SB 128 would allow a mentally competent, terminally ill adult California resident in the final stages of life to request aid-in-dying medication from a physician.

Maynard’s testimony will also be used to advocate for similar assisted-death bills pending in 16 other states and Washington, D.C.

Legislation to permit assisted death in California has failed twice, opposed on religious grounds as well as by many physicians.

Twitter: @McGreevy99

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

11:10 a.m.: This post has been updated with comments from Wednesday morning’s news conference about the legislation and details of Brittany Maynard’s video message.

This post was originally published at 8 a.m.

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