IU Southeast students share opinions on Brittany Maynard’s “Death with Dignity”

Rain Hopkins, Staff

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Married for just over a year, Brittany Maynard was hoping to begin a family and experience the next chapter of her life with the one she loved. But at the age of 29 she received news that would halt her plans indefinitely. On New Years Day Maynard was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

Maynard soon after moved to a state that allows her to decide when she wanted to end her life under the Death with Dignity laws.  The laws allow for a terminally-ill person to receive medical aid in death.   According the the laws a person deemed mentally stable and with no chance at survival may choose to die more quickly and less painfully.

Currently, the only states that have enacted Death with Dignity laws are Oregon, Washington and Vermont.

Clinical professor at the IU Southeast School of Nursing Kathleen Walsh said that the issue of medical aid in dying is complex and raises many viewpoints.

“Whether it is a good decision, I can’t answer that. Only Brittany had the right to decide if it was good or bad. Patients have the right to autonomy, but it must be a legally defensible decision,” Walsh said.

Walsh said she doesn’t see the Death with Dignity Act ever happening in Indiana.

“Public support for or against such legislation is deeply rooted in spiritual and religious beliefs, cultural norms and practices, and the likelihood and willingness of leaders to speak for or against such a controversial change in law,” she said.

We asked IU Southeast students what they think on the issue:

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“It’s the last-ditch effort to control the uncontrollable. This is a way to take control over something that turns a person’s life upside-down and sideways. I would rather they go while they are still who they are than become something that’s just not there.”

— Cassandra Guernsey, geoscience senior

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It’s her choice. If we’re not able to make our own choices, are we really sentient beings? Are we really in control of our own bodies and minds? ”

— Josh Rowe, computer science and mathematics sophomore

 
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I disagree with it. Based on moral views, I believe that you should die the way you were intended to die. It still is what I consider suicide. ”

— Parker Norfleet, accounting and finance sophomore

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In the event I was going to die either painfully or quickly, I wouldn’t want to sit there and struggle with the fact that I’m going to die, and have that tossing and turning in my head. I also wouldn’t want my family to see me that way. ”

— Noah McCourt, Psychology freshman

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I don’t see a reason for it to ever be used. You’re taking your own life. I think it’s just sad. I don’t think anyone has a right to take someone else’s life or their own.”

— Brendan Slack, informatics freshman

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I think it was her choice. If she wanted to go, she wanted to go. I don’t think she should have had to move for it, either. ”

— Amber Manley, occupational therapy freshman