Brittany Maynard Didn’t Commit Suicide (What We Can Learn From 9-11’s “Falling Man”)

Brittany Maynard Didn’t Commit Suicide (What We Can Learn From 9-11’s “Falling Man”) November 4, 2014

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The past few days have been filled with news that terminally ill 29-year-old, Brittany Maynard, has ended her life with medication prescribed by her physician. She did so under legal physician assisted suicide provisions in the state of Oregon. Had Maynard not taken the medication, she would not have lived much longer, and the final moments of her life would likely have been painfully debilitating, as her brain cancer took over.

In the weeks leading up to her death, Maynard succeeded in not only completing her “bucket list” but also in sparking a national discussion on “death with dignity,” or what is commonly called physician assisted suicide.

Admittedly, I thought the matter was settled in my mind before Brittany’s story became a daily topic. Until Brittany I was absolutely, positively against the idea that physician assisted suicide should be legal. However– and here’s another of Brittany’s accomplishments these past few weeks– I don’t feel the way I did a few weeks ago.

Part of my shift has been because of the discussion and reasoning that came from Brittany herself, and part has been from some of the judgmental condemnation I’ve seen of Brittany online– judgmental attitudes that caused me to re-think my association with that side of the issue. However, the real shift in my thinking came from sitting in my rocking chair next to my wood stove late in the evening, watching a program about iconic photography from the terrorist attacks of 9-11.

The_Falling_ManOne of the most recognized images from the terrorist attacks is an image that has been called “The Falling Man” by Richard Drew, and I’m sure you probably recognize it. The image is of an unidentified man who was trapped on one of the upper levels of the Trade Center, and ultimately made the decision to jump to his death instead of being burned alive or suffocated by smoke.

I can’t imagine making that choice. I’ve tried, but I can’t.

There are no exact numbers, but some have estimated that upwards of 200 people made that difficult choice– choosing to jump instead of dying by fire or smoke.

On one hand, one could say these people took their own lives– that they committed suicide– but that wouldn’t really be fair, would it? NYC officials didn’t think so either, and had their deaths classified as homicide by blunt force trauma instead of suicide. A spokesman for the NYC medical examiners office stated:

‘Jumping indicates a choice, and these people did not have that choice,’ she said. ‘That is why the deaths were ruled homicide, because the actions of other people caused them to die…”

The Falling Man, and others like him, didn’t have a real choice to live or die– they only had a choice in which way they died: smoke and fire, or by falling. For their children to have to walk through life saying, “my dad committed suicide” is less than fair and completely untrue– they didn’t choose to die (the very definition of suicide), they just chose how they died.

This is precisely why I’m losing my patience with my fellow Christians who are condemning Brittany Maynard for her decision to take the pills her doctor prescribed her. Brittany didn’t wake up one morning and say “I hate my life and I’m going to kill myself,” just like those who jumped on 9-11 didn’t step up to the ledge and jump because they were in debt or trapped in a bad marriage.

It seems disingenuous to force someone to choose between two ways of dying and then turn on them in judgement for picking the least painful of the two options.

Like the 9-11 jumpers, Brittany didn’t have a choice in dying, she only had a choice in how she died. You see, there are people like Brittany– terminally ill with imminent death looming– who are essentially trapped in a burning building from which there is no way of escaping with their lives. For some of these people, the idea of being burned alive or having to inhale smoke until death overcomes them becomes less appealing than stepping up to the ledge and accepting a quicker, less painful fate.

In all the years since 9-11, I’ve never once heard a Christian speak up in judgement and condemnation over the 9-11 jumpers. I’ve never heard someone say they sinned because they “hastened death instead of accepting God’s timing.” I’ve never heard anyone say that failing to condemn their choice is a “slippery slope that could send the message that suicide is okay.” All I’ve ever heard about the 9-11 jumpers is how difficult their choice must have been, and how sad it is that their lives were taken by terrorism.

Why then, should we say those things about Brittany– or those who choose to die more quickly and less painfully in response to a terminal disease– a death sentence that becomes their burning building? It’s not a choice to die (suicide). It’s just a choice to pick the most painless way to die.

Christians should be the people who are the least judgmental and the most compassionate– the ones who recognize the truth that while the 9-11 jumpers didn’t commit suicide, Brittany Maynard didn’t, either.

She died because of terminal cancer, and that is very, very sad.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I was in 7th grade when I saw those “jumpers.” I’ve never been able to forget the images. Nor have I ever made the same connection you just did. Thank you for opening my mind a little about physician assisted suicide. A sobering perspective.

  • David

    Benjamin, should we be any less condemnatory towards those who in the pain of mental illness (whether bipolar, depression- even temporary, or schizophrenia) commit suicide? I certainly would not be. To condemn someone who is in so much physical or mental pain that he/she would take his/her own life shows the very lack of compassion such people most needed in THIS life! And, lest anyone misunderstand me, I do not equate lack of condemnation with agreement, at least not on the issue of suicide. I may not agree w/ suicide as an option to either physical nor mental pain, but I can not condemn anyone for doing so. I only have compassion for someone in that much pain! What would Jesus do? Well first have compassion, then try to be an agent of healing & hope!

  • AuraDawn

    I can only hope that when I face my own death, I have the same options/choice. It seems to me that those who condemn such choices are, on some level, afraid of death itself. They seek to put it off as long as possible for themselves and others.

  • Well said. I think the Falling Man story is an apt analogy. Like you, I held the same position before I read about Brittany, although I think my views may have started changing over the last two years as I saw my mom dying a horrible slow death from an intestinal cancer. Thanks for writing on this.

  • Yes. Compassion is paramount. And you’re right with mental illness….many times people who are struggling with it feel as though they are really dying too. We need to work on trying to understand more and try to judge and condemn less.

  • Erica Johns

    I would say that when a human is basically in a furnace of flames, every bit of human nature would propel you away from the heat and the flames. I doubt that Falling Man made a conscious decision to jump. I doubt that he could have chosen the flames.

    I appreciate your article, but don’t agree with the idea that the jumpers made a choice.

  • Thank you for writing this. As someone who has struggled with suicide before, I just can’t see how describing Brittany as “suicidal” is in any way close to accurate.
    (Not that the mentally ill or those in pain should be condemned, either – never! I’m just saying it’s a completely different scenario).

  • Dan Klimke

    What a coincidence… I too watched Falling Man just a few days ago — thank you for drawing the connection for me. I feel nothing but compassion for those who choose to end their life and fully believe that God’s love surrounds any poor soul who does so… Whether one of the 9-11 jumpers, blessed souls like Brittany, or those struggling with mental illness and depression. My father died of the exact type of brain tumor that Brittany suffered from, and I can assure everyone, it is a horrible, supremely painful death. Anyone — particularly holier than thou “christians” — who says Brittany “gave up hope” displays their utter ignorance and indifference to another’s suffering.

  • You chose an excellent example that appears at first to be unrelated, but is so relevant and apt… food for thought indeed! Yet again, you’re challenging my thinking, which is never a bad thing imho.

  • We were never in that situation, so it is impossible to determine the individual choices made, though I believe there were some who sent messages or voicemails to loved ones before they jumped, so they certainly didn’t just get ‘pushed out’ by the flames, having time to assess and rationalise it enough to say ‘goodbye’.

    In that context, I feel that coming to an end of days knowing that death is just around the corner, such a rational choice of medication over pain is very similar to the ‘jumpers’ – having never looked at it this way before, it IS difficult to reconcile for me too, granted, but we cannot dismiss the argument that easily.

  • Guest

    Why the hell do Christians think their opinion based on their interpretation of Scripture should matter to someone else? Why on every single issue does the fundie right have to Jesus juke everything? The thing I resent the most about having the canned/flash card refrigerator magnet Bible verse answers for everything is the complete rejection of our humanity and actually putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes. The act of truly empathizing and connecting with another person never requires the phrase, “I understand, BUT…” That really demonstrates a lack of understanding. I wish people would just shut up already. If you don’t agree with her choice, awesome. Guess what, there’s nothing you can do about it anyway. It’s like when people want to talk about how it’s not what *God* would have her do, they’re trying to preen and show God that *they* wouldn’t actually make that choice. Awesome. Here’s your gold star and your holy points for the day. But shut up already, and really try to actually connect with someone.

  • 2TrakMind

    I’ll tell you, when my little boy was dying of cancer, there were a lot of things that i was ready to consider, that would have gone directly against what i had been raised to believe about “right and wrong.” When facing you’re something like this, everything is fair game and baseless beliefs are directly challenged.

    We’re so quick to judge on everything that is really of no eternal consequence. Some argue that suicide is the unforgivable sin, but there is no scriptural support for that notion, therefore, there is no specific consequence for the individual, perhaps other than what that individual holds to be true about Jesus. No person commits suicide without deep consideration of the ramifications, immediate, or eternal. It is not something people take lightly. I have to believe that Brittany followed her heart, had long conversations with her husband and family and was at peace with her decision, trusting that whatever her eternal destination was, it would be better for her than the suffering she was about to incur. I also have to believe that God, being a compassionate God, was compassionate toward her, as He always is.

  • Thanks for writing this. I’m insanely afraid of heights, and every time I’ve ever seen footage of those who jumped from the towers, I felt a special kind of sick, imagining myself in a situation where I’d actually choose to die in a manner that I’m so irrationally afraid of because the alternative is so much worse. And I’ve never felt anything but deep sadness and compassion for those who were in that situation. And no matter if it’s ethical or not, how in the world can I feel anything else for Brittany Maynard?

    I’m still unsure at this point, exactly what to believe about this situation or assisted suicide in general, but your post definitely gives me a lot to think about.

  • natsera

    Bravo!! Thanks for your understanding of the real reason for physician-assisted death. I don’t call it suicide either. And since I have what MAY be a terminal lung disease (not properly diagnosed yet), I’ve been spending a lot of time mulling it over. I know that if I end up being diagnosed definitively, and I decide to do it when the time comes that I’m suffering with not long to live, some of my friends will try to talk me out of it, or prevent me from doing it (I don’t live in Oregon), but now I have a way to explain it to them.

  • Guest

    BRAVO! Thank you. I watched my mother die an excruciatingly slow and painful death. If she could have done so, I have no doubt she would have chosen to shorten the ordeal–not because she was afraid to die but because her life was becoming a nightmare. Death is NOT the worst thing that can happen to you.

  • Until you are yourself in that situation, and I hope you never are, it is not your place to make presuppositions about what was real or not real for these people.

  • The overwhelming response of Christians to Brittany Maynard has made me furious and disgusted. Her suffering and her awful choice has been made into a farce by Christians eager to parade how their morality is the best morality and the only morality and how without it you make ‘sinful choices’ like the one Brittany has made.

    The worst of it is,each one of these Christan make it clear that they’re ‘compassionate’ and ‘sympathising’ to Brittany’s plight before they call her selfish, immoral, and displeasing to their god. A terminally ill woman can’t even die privately without being made into a Christian proselytising tool.

    If you think Brittany was selfish, that she made the wrong choice, that she’ll have to answer to god, that’s your prerogative, but don’t expect any of us to buy your claims of empathy.

  • MommaBearNYC

    Well said. Cancer killed her; dignity chose the time. I was there on 911 and most “jumpers” were actually only “fallers” and were clearly unconscious either because of smoke or heat and because they were leaning out away from the fire fell to the ground when they lost consciousness…very few were screaming or had flailing arms and legs typical of jumpers. One can’t commit suicide if unconscious. “Falling Man” is a good example and aptly named; head down, arms and legs still. I only saw a few real jumpers and they are the ones my heart still aches for. There is no unseeing their anguish. Either way, still not suicide and the NYC coroner got it right.

  • I’m not sure why we believe we have a right to condone or condemn her decision. Either position we take puts us in the seat of Judge, which none of us has a right to occupy. That is reserved for God alone. For my fellow Christians, the only thing we can do is hope that she did this with God’s blessing. If she did, then she made the right choice. If she didn’t, then she made the wrong one. Trying to justify our judgment over her (for or against) with worldly examples is not what we’re called to do.

  • MommaBearNYC

    Read my comment and it might make you feel less pain for those people. I’m with you on the fear of heights thing and the few jumpers there actually were haunt me because it makes me wonder just how bad it was up there that jumping was the “better” choice. Again, I firmly believe not suicide.

  • MommaBearNYC

    I am so sorry for your loss.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    The judgementalism, I believe, is due to that longstanding view that suffering and pain are somehow intrinsically and inherently noble and redemptive.

    It’s not cowardice that caused the “falling man” and the woman who’s the subject of this posting to choose the lesser pain. For Jesus to have said we need to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, the concept is that we are to love ourselves, else we have no reference. I made the difficult choice to have my little best friend put to sleep so he’d suffer no longer, as he’d never be off oxygen, and what little time he had would have been nasty, short and brutish. Would I do no less for myself, my lovely wife, or anyone else with whom I’m joined in heart?

    And also, would I wish to burden my loved ones with final memories of raving in abject pain and suffering, or my wishing them a final, gentle loving good night, should the horrible situation related here occur?


    edit: to avoid any confusion, the little buddy of my reference was my 14-year-old gentleman of a miniature red dachshund. His urn occupies a place of respect here in my house.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    It seems to be the default, if unspoken, view of many of our more … ummm.. “conservative” fellows that such issues are just symptoms of weak will and that the sufferers need to just suck it up, pray for healing and shut the hell up.

    I’ve lived all of my almost 58 years with major depressive disorder, as well as a very high functioning spectrum disorder. It’s only been since the late 90’s that effective treatment, medication and life tools have been available to me… If one is expecting a suicidal, or obsessive, or highly unfocused depressive to act rationally, I’d say one is really missing the concept.

    Mental illness seems to be viewed by many in the spiritual communities as not a “real” thing. One can see the effects of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. Mental illness doesn’t lend itself to the black/white, is/isn’t true-believer mindset held by so many of our fellow humans.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    And, yes… my comment is the fruit of long painful personal experience, including the loss of 2 marriages as well as other personal crises over the years.

  • Erica Johns

    Um…yeah. Which is why I posted this in the first place. We don’t really know what was going on when these people went out the side of the building.

  • Sarah McDavitt Woods

    Christians who believe Brittany should have endured her fate (excruciating pain, crippling seizures to the end) are believers who think God can always pull out a miracle for cancer patients. They think medical doctors lack faith. They think God wants to use cancer patients to be glorified through the healing of their bodies. Of course, they tend not to think amputees can regrow limbs or diabetics can self-generate insulin. For some reason it’s end stage cancer patients who are expected to pray away their illness.

  • My father lived a good life with cancer for a couple of years. And then had a terrible, heart-breaking final week. I wish I could erase that last week and be left with only the memory of my Dad living his life, not comatose, helpless and dying.

    “they didn’t choose to die… they just chose how they died.”

  • CJ Caggiano

    There is certainly no condemnation for those whose actions cannot be judged in the face of unimaginable terror unto certain death. I do wonder if I would have the courage rather to face such a fate together with others, even embracing in a final act of love for one another? I hope my final act in this life is NOT marked by yet another effort on my part to do it my way or not fully relying on & resting in my Lord. Jesus had faith right up until the end of the most torcherous of deaths ever known. By His example we should support ONLY to love one another right through to the very end, and stop playing God, for this life, these bodies, simply do not belong to us! We were all bought & paid for @ the Cross. Give up on God? NO

  • Phlegon

    Very true; and those who were not unconscious whilst falling may well have been jostled by panicked fellow victims trying to get some air, or even have been gripped by sudden gusts of wind – at such a height, there must be a certain amount of wind at all times, and a large fire can produce strong air currents of its own.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Oh my goodness… You are a fellow adoptee, as well as having a story like my father’s final days…

    His 7-year battle with melanoma ended with metastasized brain tumors. His last few weeks were horrible, he was terrified, as he didn’t have the capability to understand what was happening, and I consider myself blessed to have had my name being the last word anyone ever heard him speak as he slipped into a merciful coma.

    That series of events will haunt me until my death. A brilliant, successful, honorable and ethical attorney, ending his days experiencing a horror movie in his head was neither merciful, redemptive, holy or anything else good.

  • Chuck

    I do not agree with her decision, but, I do not condemn her. I guess that is not the generally perceived Christian response.

  • Guest

    Comparing a cancer diagnosis is a bit jarring to me. My mother was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in the late 80s. The doctor, after completing the initial surgery, told us point-blank that she might have two years to live. Might. She lived 11 more years. Where the doctors placed a period, God inserted a comma. During those 11 years, she saw me get married. She saw her only grandson born. She fished. She played cards. She laughed a lot. She played with her grandson. She played with him some more. She appreciated the little things every day. She gave me wonderful advice and loving admonishment. She taught me how to fix those sweet potatoes that everyone fought over at Christmas dinners. She reestablished her relationship with Jesus. She lived — every day she was given — to the best of her ability. I remember during one of the many days when the chemo was rough and she didn’t feel well, she told me about a neighbor down the road who had killed himself. He had just been diagnosed with cancer. He didn’t even bother to do surgery or chemo. He used a shotgun to fight his cancer, without telling anyone he was going to do it. My mom looked at me with reassuring eyes and said, “I promise you this. I won’t ever do that.” To Mom, her death — her life — was strictly in God’s hands.
    I would like to tell you she died without any pain or shots or hospitals. She didn’t. She had a lot of terrible moments of escruciating pain. But she died with dignity in the midst of it all. She had that “last” conversation with me, and I cherish every word she said. The same woman that taught me how to live also taught me how to die. Without fear. Without complaining. But with God.
    If my mother had decided to play God in her own life, I shudder to think what we would have missed over the 11 years the doctors said we would never have. You see, doctors “practice” medicine for a reason. They are not healers. They can assist. They can help. But God has the last word in all matters of life and death. This controversial issue didn’t begin with Brittany. Our nation decided to become God long ago when it decided that a life inside a womb was optional. We have been on a slippery slope ever since. My mother showed me what the bible had already confirmed. There is no sting in death for a Christian. We never know, until our last breath, whether God will give us another day to play with a grandchild, another hour to tell someone we love them, or another minute to say thank you to a hospice nurse. Our journey does not always conclude without pain or suffering. But neither did our Savior’s. It is He we are supposed to follow, even unto death.

  • Gina Adams

    Comparing a cancer diagnosis to 9/11 is a bit jarring to me. My mother was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in the late 80s. The doctor, after completing the initial surgery, told us point-blank that she might have two years to live. Might. She lived 11 more years. Where the doctors placed a period, God inserted a comma. During those 11 years, she saw me get married. She saw her only grandson born. She fished. She played cards. She laughed a lot. She played with her grandson. She played with him some more. She appreciated the little things every day. She gave me wonderful advice and loving admonishment. She taught me how to fix those sweet potatoes that everyone fought over at Christmas dinners. She reestablished her relationship with Jesus. She lived — every day she was given — to the best of her ability. I remember during one of the many days when the chemo was rough and she didn’t feel well, she told me about a neighbor down the road who had killed himself. He had just been diagnosed with cancer. He didn’t even bother to do surgery or chemo. He used a shotgun to fight his cancer, without telling anyone he was going to do it. My mom looked at me with reassuring eyes and said, “I promise you this. I won’t ever do that.” To Mom, her death — her life — was strictly in God’s hands. I would like to tell you she died without any pain or shots or hospitals. She didn’t. She had a lot of terrible moments of escruciating pain. But she died with dignity in the midst of it all. She had that “last” conversation with me, and I cherish every word she said. The same woman that taught me how to live also taught me how to die. Without fear. Without complaining. But with God.
    If my mother had decided to play God in her own life, I shudder to think what we would have missed over the 11 years the doctors said we would never have. You see, doctors “practice” medicine for a reason. They are not healers. They can assist. They can help. But God has the last word in all matters of life and death. This controversial issue didn’t begin with Brittany. Our nation decided to become God long ago when it decided that a life inside a womb was optional. We have been on a slippery slope ever since. My mother showed me what the bible had already confirmed. There is no sting in death for a Christian. We never know, until our last breath, whether God will give us another day to play with a grandchild, another hour to tell someone we love them, or another minute to say thank you to a hospice nurse. Our journey does not always conclude without pain or suffering. But neither did our Savior’s. It is He we are supposed to follow, even unto death.

  • Thank you for your excellent analysis.

    I have long favored the Oregon approach, for the kind of reason that you now accept. I applaud Brittany. I don’t applaud the particular choice she made, not do I condemn it. I applaud Brittany for her clarity in asserting that this was her choice to make. And she was right about that.

    If we respect human life and respect human dignity, then we must respect the kind of decision that Brittany made, whether or not we would have made that particular choice ourselves.

    And I would also like to applaud Brittany’s family for the way that they supported her, even agreeing to move to Oregon so that she could have that freedom of choice.

  • kimberly oyler

    the problem I have with this article is that technically we are all dying. we are all forced to die. every last one of us. so by this logic, that both the falling man and Brittany were being forced to die, making it okay that they chose how they died, means that we all now get to chose how we die. so then is suicide okay? because I’m going to die anyway? so then it’s okay if I take my life now in a way I feel more comfortable with just so I don’t have to take the chance of dying in a more painful manner later? I’m certainly not making a judgement on either of them, but I don’t think you can equate a brain tumor to an act of terrorism.

  • Nimblewill

    Samson of scripture made a similar choice and this is what the Bible says about him.

    32 And
    what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon,
    and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel,
    and of the prophets:

    33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.

    34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness
    were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of
    the aliens.

  • Worthless Beast

    I have mixed feelings on this.

    The Falling Man scenario is one I have contemplated – deciding, in that situation, falling is preferable to burning, no matter how phobic I am about falling, but being choked by smoke might be preferable because the asphixiation might cause interesting hallucinations. I’m a very morbid person.

    Despite what the depression side of me tells me, I’m fighting right now. I watched my man weep bitterly over a cat this summer, so I don’t want him to weep bitterly over me. And this is why I have mixed feelings over this. On one hand, I don’t really like the push society gives for “If something goes wrong or there’s something even a bit wrong with you – you don’t deserve to live.” And how most of it, at large, would rather some of us emotionally off-kilter folks who can’t keep work or those young people who can’t keep their grades up or are not straight enough or whatever people like to condemn other people for this week are on about “deserve what they get and should get out of the way.” Survival of the fittest and whatnot… Hell, sometimes, I feel like “the future doesn’t belong to me” because I can’t seem to get my brain to stop this “belief that a higher power exists” business. Even thinking that the higher power might be neutral or a bit wicked by our standards isn’t enough, apparently. I must be a worthless evolutionary throwback. My brain’s too borked up either way for this world. My own blood-family made me regret surviving my own actual attempt to leave it…

    And yet, perhaps because of my man, or because I have a bit of aggression on the bipolar switch, I feel like roaring back at the world. Overturning moneychanger tables. Whipping sons of bitches. (At least mentally). So, when I hear about stuff like how in other countries, people are being assisted in suicide for Depression and like illness, I just want to scream NO! WORLD! FUCK YOU! STOP TRYING TO KILL US! BE BRAVE AND HELP US, DAMMIT! – Wrestle that knife away from me! Smack that glass of bleach out of my hand! Keep me from getting ahold of a firearm! THAT’S what courage and love are! THAT is the true compassion! Show us sad people you do want us around! I’m glad I survived thus far! That’s the conclusion I always come to!

    On the other hand, I think terminal physical illness is another thing entirely. We had to put our old sick cat down this summer. We deemed it better than letting her face another week without kidneys. I told the vet about how when my grandmother was dying and the doctors did a bunch of heroic measure stuff our family didn’t even want and she didn’t want, how I prayed for her death and was relieved when she died rather than in mourning (and I LOVED my grandmother). So, you know given the choice of cancer or a pill, knowing myself, I’d probably take the pill, too.

    So, I don’t know. I really do feel we have too much of a culture of death that doesn’t love the sick and defective enough, but at the same time, a culture that’s so afraid of death that people need to put up shields and condemn people who die a certain way to mask their own mortal terror.

  • Kristyn P

    Well said, Sarah. I’ve seen this attitude, also.

  • Noah

    I’ve missed the condemnation, but I’m against pas. I wouldn’t call it a slippery slope, but I don’t think others should be actively engaged in ending someone’s life. A doctor, especially, imo, should not be involved in actively ending a life. That’s just one reason. Seeing what’s going on in Europe, that parent’s can decide that their child has had enough, I think, is sad.

    If pain is unbearable to live with and it’s ok to end it – I think any pain should be allowed. Depression, anger, annoyance with life. At least right now I think it should be consistent.

    That said, I think she absolutely has the ‘right’ to actively end her life. I don’t think the state or institutions should be involved in ending life. I’m not sure if all my views are consistent with this, but I believe so.

    I also say this seeing my uncle, and father figure, in the ICU decide to stop cancer treatment when he was in extreme pain.

  • Sharon McCarty Dulude

    What happens when there is no healing or hope?

  • qopyrighter

    I do solemnly swear, some of you liberal Christians will practice silo-thinking so long until you’re able to rationalize just about anything – and you just about have. First, there is no moral equivalency between the “falling man” and Brittany. We do not know the thoughts, motives or intent of the Falling Man. Perhaps he and his fellow jumpers held out some small ray of hope, in some frantic and frightful way they might survive that fall. Post Hoc debate is easy, but their jumping from the towers could easily have involved an attempt at saving and affirming life. There was none such with Brittany. Yes, she did commit suicide. We can have a theological debate about the state of one’s eternal soul based upon such action, but applying a consistent application of doctrine and truth is NOT the opposite of compassion. And I’m really getting weary, and quite annoyed, at such shallow thinking, as you exhibit here IMHO, that your position is largely founded upon a reaction to the statements or behaviors of other believers. How’s that truth-is-a-moving-target working for you? Sigh ….

  • Russ Erickson

    I’ve recently taken into my home a depressed, 85 year old man who has much pain and doesn’t think he has much reason to live. I’ve been working through the reasoning with him of why we “live” in the first place. I reason it is not so much in what we get, but more in what we can give. But, it is an important question to ask of ourselves — why do we live? How hard are we willing to fight for that life? For me, I hope I can continue giving, even through whatever pain I might have, to give as much as I can right up until the end. I don’t think I would in good conscience jump, or take that pill.

  • Sonny Fellers

    Imagine how terrible for those jumpers if there had actually been a safe stairwell to the ground and were lied to about it so that they jumped unnecessarily … http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/healthprofessional/page5

  • Tracy

    wow. That was a great comparison. i too have been shocked by the judgement of Christians over it. My mother in law died 3 months ago of the same thing. She was a Christian who was very brave and fought well. She did tho, ask for things i can never imagine her asking for at 67 years old. She asked for dope to help her cope with it, and ended up on anxiety meds. Cancer is terrible. i have also watched my 4 year old suffer and die thru asphyxiation as an end result of her disease, and I was screaming at the doctors to give her something – as i could see the fear in her eyes being unable to breathe. We just don’t understand unless we have been there. i don’t know what i would do. But you are so right. She was already dying, and wanted to live. Big difference.

  • Tracy

    we agree for once. :)

  • Guest

    From Latin sui ‘of oneself’ + caedere ‘kill.’. The word may stick in our throat but it is what it is. Do I condemn her? No. Do I condemn anyone for it? No. It is not my place to judge. Has it been a reality in my own family? Yes. So I do write with caring for those who have made, or will ever face, that choice and for the family members that are left behind. But as awful sounding, and as much negative connotation that comes with that word, it still means what it means.

  • Luke Dierking

    Except that by this article, everyone should be able to use assisted suicide since we are all dying…. Or are you saying that it should be legal only if the individual is or would be in a lot of pain? Or is relatively close to the point of dying anyways? In that case, are you not still playing God? Ultimately believing that he isn’t or shouldn’t be in control of your life? If you don’t believe in God, then I whole heartedly agree, assisted suicide sounds great. Who is anyone to tell me I can’t take my own life when and how I choose? Ultimately, this debate comes down to a theological one (as is the case with most morale issues even if it is not realized) I do not believe a person can fully believe in God and his desire to produce good in every situation and believe that we should have the right to assisted suicide no matter how good it might sound. I feel for her pain though and I do believe it was a difficult and agonizing decision she made and I do not think she took it lightly. I feel for her family that is left behind and do not think harsh comments directed toward her are helpful to them during this difficult time.

  • Tracy

    Just another point on the other side of the issue – in my country we practice what is called passive euthanasia. Not active. So if someone is is terrible pain, like my daughter was, they give them morphine in amounts that they know will kill them, but keep them comfortable in the process. So there is that option available here. The doctors do not deliberately take lives, but by keeping them pain free, the amounts that do that kill the person. I am quite ok with that.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    I am touched to my heart for you and the losses of/to your family. My sister died a few years ago o Lou gherigs disease. I was so numb at the time! Ppl who have not yet had losses of loved ones cannot understand. Some day it will be their turn.

  • Warren

    This is not about people choosing immediate death when the alternative may be decades of healthy life. I feel safe in saying that no healthy person would make that choice. I believe that people should be able to choose immediate death when the alternative is guaranteed to be slow, painful death. If someone is suffering from a treatable condition, where they have the potential to survive and enjoy many years of life afterwards, then we should obviously do whatever we can to get them to the other side. This topic, though, is about situations where there is no other side.

    By the way, I don’t really like the question “Is suicide okay?”, because it implies a moral or ethical judgement on suicide. If someone commits suicide due to mental pain, such as from depression, asking whether their death was “okay” is like asking “Is dying from pneumonia okay?”; they died because they succumbed to their condition, not because they lacked “moral backbone” or what have you. Death should be a time for mourning, not for judging.

  • Warren

    Are you implying that Maynard didn’t consider every possible alternative before making her choice? I actually do agree that cannabis should not be a Schedule I drug, but this is neither the time nor place for that discussion.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    than-q for your word today. having a voice & being visible: that is what i seek right now. i have suffered w/ bipolar 2 thru my adolescence & adulthood & have attempted suicide manytimes. My spouse has bipolar 1. We’ve been together 38 years. Some of the time our life together feels like the play ‘waiting for gidot’ waiting for Jesus.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    sure you can! If you want to.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    maybe it’s not a ‘christian responce’. i think it is christ’s responce.

  • Warren

    I don’t see how “God can make good from any situation” implies that you shouldn’t try to make your situations as good as possible. Would you tell a starving man to refuse a meal so that God could work through his hunger, or a sick man to trust God instead of taking medicine and so glorify the Lord in his sickness?

    Besides, shouldn’t belief in God make you more willing to take the pill? I could understand an atheist deciding that any life is better than none at all, and so opting to hold out as long as possible (I’ve never met an atheist who believes this; I’m just saying it could be part of a consistent philosophy), but a Christian? Someone who claims that, upon dying, they will find themselves getting back up, as though awakening after a long sleep, in a kingdom of endless joy and perfect happiness? Surely you should be less afraid of death, ready to embrace it once this life has run its course.

    Honestly, the only Christians whose opposition to Maynard makes any sense to me are the ones who claim that suicide automatically leads to hell. That’s an abhorrent doctrine, which doesn’t even have a basis in the Bible, and I can’t understand how its adherents sleep soundly at night.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i have sweet loving memories of the little pal i had to put down. i held his head and looked in his eyes and saw life pass. i told him before hand i wouldn’t let him die alone. i cried and cried!

  • 1milesz

    In 2009 in a legal brief to the Montana Supreme Court in the case of Baxter v. State (that upheld death with dignity in that state), I wrote that those who leaped to certain deaths from the WTC twin towers on 9-11 to escape suffering from raging fires and destruction was not their choice just as it was not Brittany’s choice to bring on a terminal and incurable disease that would end her life with pain and suffering. But the author of this article failed to provide another example of why the words “suicide” or “assisted suicide” should no longer be part of the lexicon of this discussion. Consider the soldier at war who falls on an explosive that will take his life but he does it in an attempt to save his buddies. This action is described in terms of bravery by a war hero, and not a person bent on intentionally taking his own life (the very definition of suicide, right?) Again, why is it that Brittany’s actions should be described in different terms? I first wrote 18 years ago that what she, by way of example, undertook for herself but in 2014 per the Oregon death with dignity statute was never a suicide nor those prescribing her medication as assisting in a suicide. As human thought advances over time, our views of issues once held sacrosanct change. This is part of the human condition and ingrained within the fabric of social transition. Isn’t it about time that all of us toss out the word “suicide” in our discussion of what folks like Brittany faced and her decision to freely and competently be able to choose a dignified death on her own terms and not the terms of others in the health care community?

  • Paul Julian Gould

    PeeWee was there for me all the years of personal crisis – I owed him no less. He looked into my eyes, and said “thank you” in that universal language, put his head in the crook of my elbow, and went to sleep. As I said, “love your neighbor as you love yourself” does carry the truth that we are to love ourselves… How would it be loving to myself or those I claim to love to go through the sort of horror Ms. Maynard was facing? The purists among us would and have said that God can do any miracle. For a thoroughgoing theist, that’s a truth beyond argument. But that He chooses not to, at least in the tightly circumscribed ways we seem to require Him to, should say much. I’d say the greater miracle is that Ms. Maynard went out peacefully with the loving support and presence of those closest to her. The freakshow, internal and external, that was a foregone conclusion was avoided.

    The purists among us tend to be either those who need see the world in total absolutism, I guess to fill whatever’s lacking in their own psyches, or those who have never been in such situations, either self or loved ones.

    There’s really little concrete in the Bible to make a case, so, as in most things, the words of one’s favorite preacher or author fill in the gap for so many Evangelicals… Yes, I know of the Vatican official’s harrumphing as well, but there are few High Church folks on this forum.

  • You draw a false comparison. Those jumpers faced immediate, violent deaths. Brittany could have let nature take its course and spent her last moments in a peaceful, prayerful space. But it’s not my place to judge her choice. Who knows but that God might be fine with what she did. The reaction of Christians, while uncharitable, is a response to America’s worship of self, comfort and convenience —even when it results in loss of life. I don’t believe Brittany should necessarily be lumped in with the rest. But the freedom she exercised can easily be expanded to justify ghastly things. That is the real focus of the controversy. This isn’t just about one woman.

  • Robyn

    May she rest in peace.

  • I really appreciate this post, Benjamin, for the much-needed perspective it gives to this situation. I do want to add a thought, as someone whose mother died of terminal cancer. Seeing my mother suffer the way she did, I understand Brittany’s choice. But the thing I realized about mainstream Christians – particularly evangelicals – through my mother’s death, is that we have a profound misunderstanding of God’s role in suffering. Over and over again, people said things to me and my mother that attributed her illness to God – that it was “His will”, that He “just needed another angel,” etc. Their words implied that God inflicted the disease, and sometimes even that my mother deserved it for being a sinner. That’s almost never the intention when people say these things, but it doesn’t change the fact that their theology of suffering is messed up. Subconsciously, they see God as the terrorist that ignites the burning building, i.e. our physical suffering, and in order for them to shift their views of death and suicide, they’d first have to acknowledge that they worship a sadistic god. That’s too much for a lot of people to comprehend, especially if they’ve never suffered or witnessed real suffering. If they pull that thread, if they start to examine their theology of suffering and realize it’s shitty, then a lot of their beliefs about God’s blessings (a.k.a. prosperity gospel) will unravel, too. If they moralize things like Brittany’s death, then they can still operate safely under the belief that it won’t happen to them and they can control their future by pleasing God.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    yes worst!
    ‘The worst of it is,each one of these Christan make it clear that they’re ‘compassionate’ and ‘sympathising’ to Brittany’s plight before they call her selfish, immoral, and displeasing to their god. ‘

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Douglas, with all due respect, I seriously doubt you have ever been around anyone dying of advanced-stage brain cancer… the end is nothing like the pastel picture you seem to envision. It’s neither peaceful, nor is it prayerful…

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i hear you! i’m bipolar 2. depressed and suicidal for most of my 63 years. thank god i’m an alcoholic too or else i never would have a relationship w/ a loving god i found on the third step.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    hell.

  • Jacqueline C. Harvey, Ph.D.

    I completely and unequivocally disagree and am offended for the WTC victims forced out of WTC attempting to flee flames. They, in their final moments, were following the natural instinct of self-preservation (must have air) and faced the sad fact that the only way to avoid flames and breathe would ultimately kill them just a bit sooner. This is double-effect. The goal wasn’t suicide (they would have absolutely chosen air that didn’t involve jumping)- the goal was escaping the present threat to their life and the sad, unwanted consequence was death. Brittany’s goal was not self-preservation with an unwanted, secondary effect of death- like those who accept treatments knowing it could kill them. The GOAL was self-destruction. The goal was death. There was an alternative of a natural death without killing. This was suicide. To compare this to Falling Man is an offense to him.

  • FWIW, I’m a 9-11 survivor, and that image is a PTSD trigger. That’s probably true for other traumas as well. You may consider putting a trigger warning.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    ‘The thing I resent the most about having the canned/flash card refrigerator magnet Bible verse answers for everything is the complete rejection of our humanity and actually putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes.’
    well intentioned, maybe, but distant, projecting and afraid. i’ve had to let go of a 40 year old relationship b/c i fell thru a hole of unimaginable suffering. unimaginable TO THEM.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    he is dead and beyond judging her.
    as ‘guest’ put it; ‘Why the hell do Christians think their opinion based on their interpretation of Scripture should matter to someone else? Why on every single issue does the fundie right have to Jesus juke everything?’

  • 2Smart2bGOP

    Eloquently put, thank you.

  • randybuist

    Thanks for the thoughtful and well written article.

  • 2Smart2bGOP

    “Brittany could have let nature take its course and spent her last moments in a peaceful, prayerful space.”
    I disagree; there is nothing peaceful or prayerful about suffering intense pain and seizures. If you have ever had to watch someone die under those circumstances, you might have a more compassionate attitude. My mother died five years ago from a tumor in her brain, and there was nothing peaceful/prayerful about the indignities she suffered at the end.
    Brittany Maynard wasn’t depressed, she wasn’t mentally incompetent, all she was doing was dying slowly and painfully, with death ultimately being the only result. She simply did what those jumpers did, and chose a path that was less painful and horrific than the one that “nature” had in store for her. In her shoes, I would do the exact same thing and anyone not in my circle of family and friends can keep their opinions to themselves; they are inconsequential.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    four things in your comment just now stay clear in my mind and i am grateful to you for them;
    ‘For Jesus to have said we need to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, the concept is that we are to love ourselves, else we have no reference.

    For a thoroughgoing theist, that’s a [possible miricale of healing is a] truth beyond argument. But… He chooses not to, at least in the tightly circumscribed ways we seem to require Him to,

    the greater miracle is that Ms. Maynard went out peacefully with the loving support and presence of those closest to her. The freakshow, internal and external, that was a foregone conclusion was avoided.

    The purists among us tend to be either those who need see the world in total absolutism, [binary black and white] I guess to fill whatever’s lacking in their own psyches, or those who have never been in such situations, either self or loved ones.

    There’s really little concrete in the Bible to make a case, so, as in most things, the words of one’s favorite preacher or author fill in the gap for so many Evangelicals.’

  • kimberly oyler

    but i don’t think we can say it is guaranteed to be a slow, painful death. i know someone who was given the exact prognosis from the exact same kind of brain tumor 14 years ago and is still alive. we don’t know the future. i understand her not wanting to die that way, but there was no way for her to know that she didn’t have years to live had she fought the cancer with treatments.

  • Julie

    Wow. This gave me much to think about. Thank you.

  • Yamin Tedja

    Well there is a difference between jumping from buildling and taking the suicide pill. People who jumped on 9/11 might think that they might somehow survive the fall if there is a miracle or something. Taking the suicide pill, will cause death for sure. It is safer not to take matters into our own hand to avoid the questions that God might ask later. Sure human think that God will understand and God grace is abundant and He is forgiving. But I don’t want to speculate or make assumption on what God will think or do. I just assume it is safe for me not to take matter into my own hand, like taking my own life. Human does not have the capabilities to self destruct and God did not give that ability for a reason.

  • Marcos Del Aguila

    Well Said Benjamin. Well said. And thanks for sharing aloud. Quite often, it seems to me, that in the absence of God’s judgement, Christianity steps up to judge on His behalf. Somebody SHOULD right? I applaud your move away from that, however, do I hear the same judgement toward those who are ‘trapped in a bad marriage’, ‘buried in debt’, or ‘hate their lives’ that you no longer hold toward Brittany?’

  • Guest777

    I can’t imagine the pain and fear she and her family must have been in because I’m not walking in her shoes. I’ve experienced watching my mom die of a horrific, rare cancer, but it didn’t happen to me. I have a friend who’s been living with terminal colon cancer who was given just weeks to live in February and is still with us and he is most definitely suffering, but has also lived to do things he never thought he would have. As a Christian, I have an eternal perspective. Not because I think a hail Mary prayer will miraculously save her (But God could if that was His plan). Whatever pain I suffer on earth with be a blip on the screen compared to what’s in store for me eternally. When experiencing pain on earth, it’s impossible to view that pain as “temporary”. I also don’t see my life as just about me (and/or my family) I have no idea what God’s big picture for my life or how he will use my life to affect others whether it’s something horrific I experience, or something good I experience. We may never know until we die if we may have had an impact on someone we never met. To say that I personally believe that the timing of any death should be HIS is my view as a Christian, BUT DO NOT take that view as no being compassionate or being unloving. It means God has already numbered my days and thats something I can take comfort in. He has a plan for my life for His good despite the fallen world I live in. Everyone must choose for themselves but you have to understand that there is a moral line that can be crossed i.e., Dr. Jack Kevorkian who opening admits to helping people die even when there wasn’t a terminal issue.

    Btw, I whole heartedly agree with the comment above that we have no idea what was going through the 9/11 jumper’s head – maybe he thought that was the only way he could live…

  • Fos Latrit

    I love how this article says “The Falling Man, and others like him, didn’t have a real choice to live or die– they only had a choice in which way they died”
    This is so to the point, and makes all the difference between someone who is in a life or death situation and one who isn’t. I love how she completed her bucket list, made the decision with a clear mind and conscious, and then ended her life with love and beauty. It would be wonderful if we all got the same opportunity, ending life in peace after fulfilling the things we want to do. I wrote a blog post about the beauty of dying, and it think it’s at least somewhat appropriate to this situation: http://should-i-die-today.blogspot.com/2014/10/dying-should-be-beautiful.html

  • Janet Kempf

    I don’t know the pain she was in or was going to be in, but this is what I feel: we don’t choose how or when we come into this world and we shouldn’t choose how or when we leave this world. Some of those on 9/11 may not have had painful deaths (may have gone unconscious first, then passed) some may have had really painful deaths, but this is a bit like comparing apples and oranges. I just can’t help but feeling and thinking that she must not have had a strong relationship with God. I say that because I feel if you have a strong relationship with him, you would trust that He would help you get through each day, each moment as she needed Him. And as far as ‘less pain’, if you’re on hospice, you’re typically not in much pain. They keep you comfortable. I feel for her husband who lost out on extra time with her and so thankful that they didn’t have kids for her to steal that time from too. Although I have also wondered, maybe if they had had children, she wouldn’t have chosen what she did.

  • Jeffrey

    Many of the people who are posting comments on this story are condemning, bashing, and being intolerant of Christianity (while demanding tolerance of your views – seems quite hypocritical to me) are throwing around the word “radical” just as the black community throws out the word “racism” when they have no real or justifiable fact or argument to support their position. When the truth hits too close to home and touches your lifestyle, you lash out, condemn, and call us “radicals”. Granted, not all Christians walk, talk, and act as a Christian should and there are some who have posted here that are condemning and, perhaps, judgmental. However, the sins of a few are not the sins of the many. I will speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent. I will call a sin a sin when the Bible is clear it is a sin. Murder is a sin, The conscious taking of a life is a sin. Sin leads to death. Did she ask for forgiveness before she died – only God knows. If she did, was her request sincere – only God knows. The author of this article says that “Brittany didn’t have a choice in dying, she only had a choice in how she died.” Isn’t that true of everyone. We all will die, but, the vast majority, over 99%, accept death as it comes and when it comes – ready or not. That suicide in Oregon is “legal” does not make it right, just as the fact that abortion is “legal” does not make it right. Slavery was once “legal”; did that make it right? Forced sterilization of mentally ill persons was once “legal; did that make it right? Segregation was once “legal”; did that make it right? Being “legal” does not change the fact that suicide, by whatever word or phrase you want to use to make it more palatable, is still self-murder.

  • Jeffrey

    She did not choose to die privately. She chose to die by self-inflicted means in the public eye.

  • Janet Kempf

    Did Job take a pill? Or did he call out and trust and rely on God? Wasn’t he more blessed to endure all that he did? Isn’t the Christian who endures, and not takes their own life rewarded in the end? What if, by taking your life, you miss an important encounter to maybe lead someone to Christ? I just don’t believe we should be “playing God” in this situation. Everyone’s going to pass away sometime, but it’s in God’s time, not ours.

  • Bailey

    I don’t think this is an apples to apples comparison. One group of people were fighting to live. Fighting for air. And yes as someone pointed out, most actually “fell” and did not actually jump. But even for those that did, I feel there is being of “sound mind” and there is not. Whether she had an illness, Brittany still killed herself. (or had someone do it for her on her say so) But I would still think of that as suicide. That is not to say it is not a sad and tragic thing. But this celebration of death feels in some ways to be overtaking a celebration of life. I do not condemn Brittany. But calling her a hero also seems for lack of a better term…silly. And a bit dangerous to glorify.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    w/ respect, what is your point?

  • Guest

    The question may not be to me, but, I felt he was making a point that the Irish Atheist is incorrect in stating: “A terminally ill woman can’t even die privately”, because she did not do so. Her point in not doing so, however, was to inform others of options. But don’t say she died privately. It just isn’t so.

  • Jacqueline C. Harvey, Ph.D.

    Honor his memory by not comparing an intentional suicide to a tragic consequence of his attempt to spare his life from the immediate threat.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    there are many homeless, homeless & mentally ill, homeless and disabled, homeless addicts, homeless vets w/ ptsd, homeless employed and unemployed ppl who have no health insurance commiting slow suicide under the appaling conditions of having to sleep outside in all weather, (if they are allowed to sleep) inadiquate clothing, no way to keep clean, going hungry, being percieve as criminals.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    thx 4 that! my bad! i should have read the comment more carefully.

  • Matt

    The opposite viewpoint would point out that we are all actually dying. Though I don’t really agree with that arguement, it is another wrinkle to the discussion.

    Very well written article that makes one ponder. Thank you.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    isn’t having to die of brain cancer tragic enuf for you? a horrible hidious death by brain cancer is an immediate threat i think.

  • Veritacity

    Gina, thank you so much for providing some rare and much needed real-life reason. Your keen biblical insight combined with a poignant personal story is both touching and refreshing. Unfortunately it has become all too common for arm-chair theologians to elevate knee-jerk emotions above sound biblical principles nowadays. Thank you for showing us that one can indeed face painful trials with sustaining grace that brings glory to God.

  • Mark

    Solomon said,

    “It is better to go to a house of mourning
    Than to go to a house of feasting,
    Because that is the end of every man,
    And the living takes it to heart.”

    The only thing that separates most of us from Brittany is that she KNEW she was terminal. Most of us haven’t grasped that yet.

    “Death with dignity” is an interesting phrase. In the end, once we have passed, we won’t look back and wish our death was “more dignified.” How much pain is too much? At what point does God stop working in and through our distress? As a Christian, I find that my deepest stages of growth in faith are always found in pain.

    Is Brittany “wrong” for committing suicide? I can’t say. The deeper question is not “why did she kill herself” but “what/who did she live for?” This is the question that all of us must answer.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    no it isn’t.

  • Mark

    No what isn’t?

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    w/ respect ain’t you making a show of your hypocritical religious devotion, piety, righteousness, etc.

  • Praise Jesus.

  • Mark

    You tell me. The labels you stick on me “with respect” are interesting since you do not know me. I quoted Scripture and gave some thoughts. From these few lines you’ve decided to label me “with respect” as being a hypocrite.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i’m asking you, not telling you.

  • And this is why even If I believed the Bible was true, I would never want to rub shoulders for all eternity with Christians.

    How much disrespect and contempt can you have towards this woman? Her choice was to live a full and healthy life with her husband, but cancer didn’t give her that choice, so her last defiance was to not let cancer have the last say. That took courage, bravery, and grace, and she deserves only respect and empathy.

    You have discarded both for your self-righteous sneering. How completely uncivilised.

  • Mark

    No.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    thx for this!
    ‘I don’t really like the question “Is suicide okay?”, because it implies a moral or ethical judgement on suicide. If someone commits suicide due to mental pain, such as from depression, asking whether their death was “okay” is like asking “Is dying from pneumonia okay?”

  • Chris A

    Benjamin, it took a few CNN stories and a 9/11 documentary for you to decide that there is no meaning in suffering?

  • louismoreaugottschalk
  • BoBo McJoboMo

    She’s a hero if you consider that in most places, people don’t have the right to end their own lives no matter how much pain they are in. Your life is the one thing that should always belong to you. That is why slavery is such a crime against humanity. And part of your life belonging to you is that the choice to end it on your terms should also belong to you. But others who don’t feel that way have usurped that choice from people which to me is the same as exercising the ultimate power over another human being. If someone is not allowed to end their own life, their life does not actually belong to them.

    And if it doesn’t belong to them, who does it belong to?

  • BoBo McJoboMo

    Hmm, natural death aye? Wouldn’t a “natural” death be one that is unaided by modern medicine? I’m pretty sure breathing machines and shock paddles don’t occur “in nature” but laying there dying in pain with absolutely no recourse, possibly while a scavenger or your own killer starts eating you while you’re still alive, sure does. So why don’t you practice what you so pathetically preach sister. Sign up for a natural death of the first illness or injury you receive that is up to the task. Surely you would expect no less of yourself than you would another human being, right?

  • Ilan

    There’s one important distinction between the 9-11 jumpers and Brittany, which is especially true for Christians: the 9-11 jumpers were inevitably going to die within minutes (if not seconds), whereas there was always the possibility of a miraculous healing for Brittany. By ruling out the possibility of a miraculous healing, one can argue against Brittany’s decision from a Christian perspective. I don’t judge her (I am no better in my own ways). But I wouldn’t equate what she did with the 9-11 jumpers.

  • Ilan

    You’re a nincompoop.

  • Chat07

    It is not fair to compare those who jumped in burning
    buildings to how Brittany killed herself. For one those who jumped where driven
    by their instincts of self-preservation (see the story of the stewardess who
    jumped from an exploding plane and lived) deep down within, contrary to what theauthor here is saying they are not “choosing how to die” but they are actually
    thinking that it is their best chance to survive. They do not have the time to
    think this through or weigh the moral consequences of their actions. Imagine
    the scenario, the building is exploding…. Jump!

    This is not the case with Brittany, she is conscious of her choice, she knows what she is doing, and she even planned how it’s going to be. She heard opinions from various sources, weighed all these and still made the decision to end her life. I am sorry but there is no way to sugarcoat this.

    It is very sad… Unfortunately this is what the culture is teaching us that we have
    COMPLETE autonomy over our lives because it is OURS to live. We forget that our lives are NOT ours to begin with, we cannot simply “will” to have it, we cannot create it but it was given to us by our Creator and since He is the
    author only He can prescribe the ending.

    The devil which is the ‘father of the lie’ is telling us that there is nothing
    valuable to one who is already sick and one who is already helpless but the
    world is filled with stories of amazing products of hope and as long as we are
    breathing, as long as our souls have yet to leave our bodies, then the GREAT
    AUTHOR is not yet done with us.

    He is still teaching us something and still using us to teach others lessons that
    couldn’t otherwise be learned in another way.

    Yes, our being hopeful might not always lead to the “miracle” that we
    wanted but something good always come from suffering if we would just offer the suffering to God for Him to use.

    A lot of Saints are evidences of the goodness behind redemptive suffering. If we can just know our limitations and stop acting like we are gods ourselves and start letting the One True GOD be the Lord of our lives once and for all, we would find that everything has a purpose — a great purpose and that nothing is a coincidence or happened “just because”.

    May the Lord be merciful on Brittany’s soul and may her family be enlightened, converted, and later on be advocates for life (in the truest sense)

  • Becky Rouzer Northcutt

    I shared about 6 paragraphs of your article in the comments of a Christian blogger who had criticized Brittany and who feels that she has the right to do that because she is also dying. She declined to post my comment but I hope that she read it and then your entire article because it may help her sometime soon. Thank you for seeing this truth and saying it so well.

  • It sounds like you believe it is impossible to pray or be at peace while succumbing to a terminal illness. There are many testimonies of people who have watched loved ones go through this kind of thing — at peace. You underestimate God.

  • Ed Morgano

    Thank you for sharing this perspective. I totally agree.

  • Carol Manglos

    This seems like a decision one makes alone…hopefully with divine guidance.

  • Heather McCuen Dearmon

    As I’ve written here before, my dad took his own life in my front yard (Nov 10, 2007) because he was in chronic, debilitating neuropathic pain that no medicine could ease or ever cure. If this kind of “dying with dignity” choice was available to him, and he chose it, I can tell you that it would have been a lot easier to process than finding him in the grass with his head blown off. Don’t get me wrong, death is tragic in ANY form that it comes, but the shock of suicide does not give anyone time beforehand to process that they are going to lose someone.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    It is not fair?

  • Tyler

    Well I am a Christian and I have no problem with what she or the people of 9-11 did. If we want to boggle the mind a little. Jesus our Lord and Savior had a “death with dignity” he was put on the cross to die on the cross. And he did endure the cross but once the sin debt of the world was paid he “gave up the ghost”. In other words he knew he was going to die and chose the manner and time in which he did die.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    silly silly Brittany.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i cuttapasta from wiki;

    ‘The so-called typical “attacking a straw man” argument creates the illusion of having completely refuted or defeated an opponent’s proposition by covertly replacing it with a different proposition (i.e., “stand up a straw man”) and then to refute or defeat that false argument (“knock down a straw man”) instead of the original proposition’

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. LUKE 11;46

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    I think it’s obvious that Humans do have the capabilities to self destruct and maybe God did give that ability for a reason.

  • Bailey

    I’d go with, “God,” on that one.

  • Timothy Weston

    I remember this being played out in the Terry Schiavo case: The quantity of life over its quality. I wonder if any of these “pro-lifers” have ever had to face cases of chronic pain and a terminal illness whether it is them or someone in their family. I saw one Christian publication ask “Who Will Speak for Brittany Maynard’s life. Some commenters on the article wanted her kept alive in the event that she could receive a miraculous healing. As far as I am concerned, she spoke for her own.

  • ibwilliamsi

    Clearly you haven’t taken the time to familiarize yourself with Oregon’s Death With Dignity laws or you wouldn’t be comparing the two situations because they are anything but the same.

  • ibwilliamsi

    Amen! It’s their own faith they need to worry about, not mine. It’s a personal choice that I get to answer when my time is up just as they do.

  • Scott Summers

    Actually, tho the question wasn’t directed to me, either, she chose to disclose what she was going to do to the public and provide information on options, but unless her physician assisted suicide was televised to, filmed for or viewed by the public, then she did, indeed, choose to die privately.

  • ibwilliamsi

    And no one else has ever suffered as you do, unless they’ve looked at their suffering as having been relieved through the redemption of Christ?

    Spare me, ok? You have no idea of what suffering anyone else has gone through and I don’t need or want your pity or advice.

  • Yamin Tedja

    Ok. show me an example of self destruction by a human being.

  • Guest

    I never understand the idea that they should suffer. They’re so contradictory. Did Jesus suffer for their sins or not? If He did, why do they need to suffer? Shouldn’t they enjoy life and live right? What’s it got to do with them if I sin in a way that has no affect on them? They wouldn’t want to spend time with me here on earth (the feeling is more than mutual) I can’t imagine WHY they think that they want to “save” me and spend time with me for eternity.

  • ibwilliamsi

    I never understand the idea that they should suffer. They’re so
    contradictory. Did Jesus suffer for their sins or not? If He did, why do
    they need to suffer? Shouldn’t they enjoy life and live right? What’s
    it got to do with them if I sin in a way that has no effect on them?
    They wouldn’t want to spend time with me here on earth (the feeling is
    more than mutual) I can’t imagine WHY they think that they want to
    “save” me and spend time with me for eternity.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    no.

  • The Eh’theist

    Exactly. I’m glad I chose to read down before posting the same thing myself. We’re all terminal, we just don’t know when it will happen. In fact, I think some Christians will eventually be using her as an example for sainthood, because she “laid down her life” for her family, just like Jesus.

    Still haven’t seen a christian try to explain how Jesus exercising his will to die wasn’t an act of “suicide by centurion.”

  • DSmit7

    The writer of this article, and anyone who wpuld agree with him has either never seen an actual live saving divine healing take place at the last minute, or… simply cannot appreciate the value of a Christian holding onto faith until the very last breath. This lady was not a believer, nor was she driven by flames from a window of a falling building. She had a diagnosis. Thats it. As grave diagnosis indeed but completely different from the split second desperation of 911 victim. Maybe if she was a believer she would not have devalued an opportunity to display FAITH to us all. Sorry, but not correct or Biblical in the slightest if you think there is any lasting value or testimony for Jesus in euthenasia. I think it also really devalues the courage so many people have shown as they have fought to the last breath. Her choice speak to them as people who wasted thier time and should have done a bucket list then took a pill. And her actions actually mock tjose who have had faith and courage to go the distance. The minute you see a real miracle or a witness the courage of a dying Christian have a joy they really shouldnt have then these kind of article become absolutely insulting to Biblical faith… and believe me Im not a fundamentalist Bible thumper. Im just not stupid like this article.

  • The Eh’theist

    Kreskin, I didn’t know you posted on the internet. Great that you could read the minds of all those people and be 100% certain of their intentions. Your rationalization doesn’t pass the sniff test. Sorry.

  • The Eh’theist

    Again, Jesus exercised his will to “lay down his life.” Suicide by centurion. Speaking where the Bible speaks, you can’t avoid that conclusion. You worship an assisted suicide, unless you deny Jesus as omnipotent God who willed his own death.

  • Terry Firma

    The headline was the trigger warning, you oaf.

  • The Eh’theist

    So you are saying there could not have been a miracle for the 9-11 jumpers? So you don’t believe God could do anything, but you think miraculous healing is common enough to have a reasonable hope of it. Or if you think god is omnipotent, then he could have saved the jumpers and you feel abut them like you do about Brittany.

    Seems like you’ve got a logic flaw somewhere.

  • Michael

    I’m sorry, you’re wrong. She committed suicide, Cancer did not kill her. And the problem comes with this statement, “Had Maynard not taken the medication, she would not have lived much longer, and the final moments of her life would likely have been painfully debilitating, as her brain cancer took over.”

    You don’t know that, the doctors don’t know that and Maynard surely didn’t know that.

    See, my brother died of brain cancer. When diagnosed, the doctors told him he had 12 to 18 months. He survived five years. My mom died of a different type of cancer. Typically, people with her cancer live 3 to 5 years after diagnosis – my mom survived eight. I know a gentleman with the same cancer, he’s been living with it over a decade.

    Maynard didn’t die from terminal cancer, she took her own life.

    Only God knows the measures of our days. He sets the length of them. To intentionally take a life, whether by homicide or suicide is to usurp God’s judgment.

    I don’t know why God took my mother and brother home when He did, and it absolute foolishness on my part trying to explain it. I don’t know why they had to go through such horrible suffering, but God does.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I do no such thing, Douglas. However, I also don’t consider God as being circumscribed and defined by literalist and rigid American Evangelical Protestant interpretations of spirituality.

    Where I err, I also know a God who knows there’s no malice intended, and is willing to gently reprove and correct. One of the things I’ve always taken issue about certain interpretations is the idea that pain, suffering and horrible ways of dying are somehow redemptive and holy and the seemingly unshakeable conviction that such things are God’s will and way of teaching… well… teaching what, exactly? There’s no golden crown for enduring things we wouldn’t wish on a family pet, and the medical knowledge that enabled the subject of this post to make her choice fast without incident is also a gift from God. When one dies in a flood after attempts of assistance by a helicopter, a boat, God might well ask the person why they kept praying for deliverance when the deliverance had already been attempted. Do you seriously think that, in most cases, such pain, suffering and delirium is God’s best for that person? I witnessed the last stages of terminal brain cancer for a couple of weeks in the person of my father, and that was anything but sanctified.

  • Guest

    Then we will have to agree to disagree. To die privately she would not have released a date. She did. The media was all over it. There was nothing private about her death. I respect your opinion and you are entitled to it however.

  • somebodyelsewithsomethingtosay

    What if ending one’s life becomes so accepted in our culture as a means of escaping suffering that someday the elderly will be pressured to do the same so as not to become too much of a burden or eventually just to save money? That’s the thinking that creates a fear of a slippery slope. We’re all in our own ways terminal.

  • somebodyelsewithsomethingtosay

    If you believe that all life is a gift, you tend to be hesitant to see it discarded prematurely.

  • rainbowbubbleful .

    The difference is that she asked the doctors to let her take her own life and chose what day she wanted to die . The jumpers did not ask to die that day and death was inevitable for all of them that day .big difference .

  • somebodyelsewithsomethingtosay

    Losing a fight against cancer is one thing, but euthanasia feels like surrendering to it or worse … aiding and abetting the enemy.

  • Angela Bradley

    It’s nice to find another friend of Bill’s online in these types of discussions… If it wasn’t for the steps I’d be dead and I know that becuase when I got sober (11/22/09) I told God to take alcohol or take me because if one of those didn’t happen alcohol would take me… No one would know today that I used to be so negative. I’m a counselor now… Been through hell and back, but most of it by my own poor choices- dating guys who didn’t respect me, low self esteem, saying crap when I was angry, etc. it all brought the depression and it was all my fault because I reacted to what happened around me instead of responded… I just know that God can do what I cannot. I’m a fighter and I don’t think I would be able to go through assisted death, and I’m 99% sure after the hell I survived growing up, that I would hold on to hope for whatever reason and believe that I could survive the treatment… Or if in the burning building, I’m pretty sure I would fight to get down to the bottom… I may have been so horribly burnt and in a body cast for months, but I’ve always been that determined to find a reason to go on… We all have strengths and weaknesses, mine is surviving. Someone else may be braver to let go, idk, I don’t let go of living easily.

  • Don’t be confused. Dying while frantically trying to escape a burning building is not the same as swallowing pills you know will kill you.

  • Pain is not there for God to heal. It’s there to make us stronger. It’s there to make others, who watch us endure, stronger. It’s not all about us. See the bigger picture.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    when, not if it happens to you or someone you love….

  • Debra Blouin

    False equivalency. Those jumpers were firstly in immediate threat of death, literally hours a and with no hope of solace comfort or care. Secondly, they were utterly alone and in understandably abject despair. Thirdly, there was no grand declaration of intent, no seeking the approbation of peers, no People magazine cover story-just tragedy, personal and national.

  • Debra Blouin

    I assure you this is not nearly as prevalent an attitude as you think. People of faith pray for miracles, hope for miracles, but ultimately they hope they will be gracious and faithful in the face of no cure, no re-grown pancreas (I am a type 1 diabetic diagnosed at 41, go figure), no sudden remission. They pray for lots of things that don’t include such demands of God.

  • Debra Blouin

    Empathy does not require agreement.

  • Debra Blouin

    He’s just angry.

  • Debra Blouin

    Grace and peace!

  • Debra Blouin

    Why is it that you sound so angry?

  • Debra Blouin

    No, suffering is not good. Suffering is unavoidable. The true “fundamentalist” Christian chooses to look at suffering as an opportunity to grow closer to God.
    There are those, and Christians are certainly not exempt, who trumpet their suffering to receive honor or sympathy, but this side of Heaven we will not often hear of those whose suffering was carried with grace and dignity and humility in private; who allowed themselves to receive care and comfort, to be seen as their bodies and minds deteriorated, and who continued to abide in God’s love and grace.

  • Debra Blouin

    He did not die to prevent people from having to take care of Him. He died to open the path to salvation. He laid down his life not so as not to be a burden or prevent greater suffering to himself, but so as to bear the full weight of sin as a human and overcome death, as he knew he would. He could “commit suicide by centurion” as you called it because he knew that his particular death was not the end of his particular life, but rather a beginning of life for mankind.

  • Debra Blouin

    Since he didn’t wish suffering on anyone, and since I can infer that he is a Christian, I would have to guess that you are hoping he suffers joy, endures graces, withstands peace, and is afflicted with love

  • Anonymous

    Steve….. you speak as one who has neither suffered great pain, nor watched someone near you suffer in great pain (correct me if I’m wrong here). Face it, we take animals to the vet to end their lives rather than leave them to suffer in pain (yes, I know that the Bible says we are different to animals, but we don’t let animals suffer yet expect our fellow men to….. really???). Perhaps you might like to spend some time working in a hospice before you talk about what makes people stronger…..

  • Anonymous

    Scott – she wrote her final message to the world from a laptop on her death bed…… not what I tend to think of as dying privately…..

  • Ilan

    The fire was a few feet away, about to consume within seconds. Brittany, on the other hand, could have gone on to live for months. There is an important difference between these two scenarios. One was a choice made in the heat of the moment, with death seconds away, whereas the other was a decision long thought through, with death on the horizon, but not necessarily around the corner. Brittany could have gone on to live to reflect the love of God, or the happiness that one can have in suffering; this was not possible for the 9-11 jumpers.

    All that I am saying is that the comparison made between the toe overlooks important differences. I am not judging Brittany.

  • Nadine

    It is the same. Haven’t you read the original article? It may not sound the same, but it essentialy is. She WOULD HAVE DIED anyway. So she was ( frantically ) trying to escape that, by doing what she did, in a sense.
    You probably feel very powerful and proud of yourself judging people like Brittany from where you standing. All of us, who are not in the same position she is in, can’t not even begin to try to imagine what it would feel like, so we should stop JUDGING, and maybe try to feel at least the smallest amount of empathy; or a lot if you’re capable..

  • Adam M

    What a challenging post. I look forward to thinking about it today. What amazes me is all the hate from Christians I know. It is like they can not separate their disagreement with what she did from who she is. Personal comments calling her a coward etc. Just horrible. I was really caught off guard from the deeply judgmental attitudes.

  • Dr. Todd Collier

    Once upon a time I would have condemned Brittany as well, but then the cancer came and I experienced unimaginable pain and fear. God delivered me through that valley (that time, you always have to consider it that way) but I witnessed many others that were delivered in a different direction – through death. My faith is stronger because of that journey, but I could not say that jumping into God’s arms would not be preferable to waiting to be picked up if the situation became a certainty.

  • john reed

    All of you can say what you will. The bottom line is, WE ARE NOT GOD. We can only opine on whether or not what this young lady did was right or wrong. I know she didn’t die a natural death, as God would have intended; she chose to die when she did. I’m not taking any chances with God’s judgment. Perhaps she was more capable of bearing pain, and had been chosen by God to suffer for others who could not bear the pain of their own illness. Regardless, she has now taken away God’s plan for her through what the Bible states is free will choice. I know one thing, I pray God has mercy on her, because it’s too late for her to seek it for herself…

  • Tiffany

    Gina,
    Thanks so much for sharing this perspective. I am so sorry your mom passed away but Praise the Lord the doctors were not right and you got to spend that much more time with her.

  • We do that here in the US with morphine as well (I’ve personally witnessed it) but we don’t actually talk about it.

  • Never seen so many straw men in one comment. Congratulations.

  • “I do solemnly swear, some of you liberal Christians will practice
    silo-thinking so long until you’re able to rationalize just about
    anything…”

    “But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all” – Jesus

  • Realist1234

    I thought of that as well, however His giving up his spirit showed that He alone had power over life and death. The criminals being crucified beside him had no such authority and died when they died. Nevertheless, I am undecided about the issue of voluntary euthanasia.

  • Patti McNeil

    You are assuming to know the thought process of the 9-11 jumpers. Could it be possible they jumped because they thought they’d have a better chance at survival? In their panicked state, couldn’t they have thought firefighters may have set up jump mats, or that people may be able to catch them? If a flame is coming toward you, your survival instinct is to pull away from it. Couldn’t it be argued the jumpers fled in a mode of survival? Do you know for a fact they went through a choice process? No. What I do know is that no one condemned their choice, but the media and others didn’t glorify it either. It was thought of as sad and tragic, not brave and heroic.
    Now, could it be argued that Brittany was in a state of panic, fear, and shock at the diagnosis? Of course. Is it understandable that she’d rather die peacefully in her own bed? Of course. Don’t we all hope for that???? Isn’t it understandable why people with serious mental illness and those with serious drug issues would rather die than endure their struggles? Of course. However, we do all we can to love them, comfort them, try to help them while their suffering, etc. We don’t congratulate them and cheer them on and call them brave for deciding on their own terms when and how they die.
    Now, Brittany’s diagnosis. Terminal? Possibly. Immediate? We don’t know. Look at the survival rates of people diagnosed with the same brain tumor. My sister was also diagnosed with a stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme at age 31 and given the same grim diagnosis. That was 15 years ago. She watched her children grow another 15 years and they learned love, support, courage, and many other things from her during those years.
    Brittany’s death is sad and tragic. Suffering of any kind is sad. I hold no judgement on Brittany’s soul, and I pray for her to rest in peace. However, I don’t believe her actions should be glorified. I don’t believe the act was brave. She absolutely killed herself, and that is incredibly sad.

  • Adam M

    Are you saying that God chooses when we die as opposed to just knowing when we die? I make choices everyday that affect my life span. Diet, exercise, tobacco use, driving habits etc. Other people’s decisions also affect when I drive like drunk driving. Sometimes its just chance. I think God’s perfect will for humanity has been out the window since Eden. I refuse to cast any stones and will fail my way forward in this life towards His grace.

  • “I’m sorry that your husband beats you, but the pain is there to make us stronger and make others who watch us endure, stronger. It’s not about you. Look past those beatings he gives you and see the bigger picture.”

  • gimpi1

    I’m so sorry you’ve been dealt this hand. I’ve compared my rheumatoid arthritis to depressive disorders, in that both have unknown causes, run in families, can’t be cured, only treated – with varying rates of success, and are disabling. Yet no one tells me that my RA is weakness that I can “pray away.” (Well, to be totally honest, a few people have. I ignore them as the fools they are.)

    The brain is an organ in the body. It is subject to illness, just as any other organ. Why we persist in regarding illnesses of one specific organ as “sin issues,” “weakness” or “lack of faith” never fails to shock me. Good wishes.

  • gimpi1

    Jumping out of a burning building or taking pills that will hasten death when faced with a terminal illness are the same basic act: When faced with an inevitable death, choosing to suffer less. Why do you seem differently?

  • Sarah McDavitt Woods

    Faith is belief without evidence. There is no evidence of miracles. Some people are fortunate and some are unfortunate. It has nothing to do with God. It’s life.

  • gimpi1

    I think this is often the case. We are uncomfortable with the thought of a loved-one choosing to end their suffering in the face of terminal illness, until we see what terminal illness is actually like. That knowledge forces us past the discomfort into understanding. Good wishes, and I’m sorry for your loss.

  • gimpi1

    Best wishes on your diagnoses.

  • gimpi1

    I would also point out that, according to some of these Christians, God is the one that put Ms. Maynard in the position of having to make that choice. Giving someone a terminal illness and then condemning them for choosing to die with some dignity and lessen their suffering is savagely cruel. Is that how some people truly picture their God?

  • gimpi1

    Because her situation taught her the value of Oregon’s law, I think she chose to use her last days in a way that showed the value of it from her perspective. I have no problem with that. She was attempting to make her death have some meaning, in my view.

  • gimpi1

    I have often felt that in end-of-life matters, we are far kinder to our pets than we are to ourselves.

  • gimpi1

    I think for some folks there’s also a tendency to see suffering as Divine judgement. People suffer because they’ve sinned. When they truly repent, their suffering will end. If it doesn’t end, they haven’t truly repented yet.

    I’ve also heard some conservative Christians argue against helping people in dire straights because, “God is trying to get their attention, and if you make things better for them, they won’t heed the Call.” I think there’s a belief that hard times will force people to turn to God, and helping people allows them to “remain in sin.”

    Neither of these beliefs can be backed up by most Christian teachings, but they’re out there, and they affect how some people view suffering.

    (Edited for code.)

  • gimpi1

    And if that’s your choice, fine. Go for it. It wasn’t Ms. Maynard’s.

    I have rheumatoid arthritis. It’s a painful, debilitating disease. I’m not going to go off my meds, and suffer deformed joints for your viewing pleasure. I don’t choose to suffer unnecessarily to be an example for others. I am under no obligation to make that (in my opinion) stupid choice.

    Neither was Ms. Maynard. I support her choice. I make my own choices. Choose for yourself, and let others do the same.

  • gimpi1

    Good suggestion about the hospice. Real experience kills arrogance, almost every time.

  • gimpi1

    And if that’s your belief, fine – for yourself. Others believe differently. Others choose differently. That’s what living in a free society means. The freedom to live and die as we choose, not as you would have us do.

  • gimpi1

    I’m glad things worked out well for you. Your mother’s choice was hers alone to make, as was Ms. Maunard’s. They both may have worked out for the best.

  • CroneEver

    Excellent post, Benjamin – and you are right. She didn’t “commit suicide” – she chose which of two ways to die, and she picked the one less horrible. What I’ve noticed is that people who jump on the “no suicide bandwagon!” when it’s a terminally ill patient are the same ones who give it an okay “s/he didn’t know what they were doing” when it’s someone with mental illness (depression, etc.). “Unsound mind” and you’re off the hook; terminal cancer and you should tough it out to the end. (I suspect those who believe this have never been there during the last months, weeks, days of someone with terminal cancer: I have. It’s not pretty, it’s not Hollywood, it’s nothing but endless pain.)

    And, of course, there’s the whole “suicide is the unforgiveable sin”. No it isn’t. The unforgiveable sin is something (unnamed) against the Holy Spirit. There is no Biblical mandate against suicide; (try and find one verse). Saul committed suicide, according to 1 Samuel, in order to not be captured alive by his enemies, and was given a hero’s burial. Samson killed himself and the Philistines around him, and it’s just fine, he’s a hero. Every martyr could technically be considered a suicide, because they could have done or said something to stay alive. Just something to think about.

  • I think it was blasphemy against the Spirit, not something unnamed. Though it’s been a while since I’ve taken a good look at that passage, so perhaps I’m mistaken.

    And I think the reason people consider suicide “unforgivable” is because they apply the logic of “anything can be forgiven, but only if you ask for forgiveness.” Which, ultimately, is a logic that flirts with works-based salvation; Jesus forgives all sins, but only if you act by asking Jesus to forgive you. Of course the other direction is the dreaded universalism; if you don’t have to ask for forgiveness, then absolutely anyone could be forgiven! Shock and horror! :-P

  • Yes. And when he beats you enough and causes enough pain in your life, you will grow strong enough to leave. You will be strong enough not to seek out that type of man again and perhaps find someone who is kind and secure. Thanks, Ben. Good example.

  • R Vogel

    it is interesting to see how people try to rationalize away the comparison you aptly make in this post. The falling man, so they argue, is simply reacting, and that, if not good, is at least understandable. She made a rational choice, and therefore is judged. No matter that she was also facing immanent death, it is the choice that makes the difference.

    Of course, much of this is likely simply loathing of the heroic. Virtually everyone can intellectually place themselves in the falling man’s position, especially if you attribute his actions to unthinking ‘instinct.’ Fleeing from the fires, he plunged to his death. Tragic. But he didn’t make a conscious, rational choice so nothing to judge here. We might likely do the same. She, on the other hand, did something that the vast majority of people would not do, something completely counter-instinctual – and this terrifies people since it sets up a hero paradigm that they know they cannot hope to achieve. To live deliberately and not fear death. She did not just passively wait for death, she look at him straight in the face and said ‘I am Brittany and welcome you courteously to my house.’ I could only hope that I would have the strength and courage to so heroically face death.

  • Warren

    Well, at the very least, there are fundamentalists openly proclaiming that a dying woman’s decision to end her suffering was morally wrong and that she deserves to have even worse suffering inflicted upon her for all eternity.

  • Thank you for saying I sound as one who hasn’t suffered great pain. That must be an indication that I’m healing. We all are dying and we all experience pain. Deciding when and how we die based on how good or bad we feel is not something I will ever be on board with.

  • CroneEver

    “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” Matthew 12:32. Fairly wide latitude there, isn’t it?

    My problem with assuming that suicide is unforgiveable because you have to ask God for forgiveness or you’re going straight to hell, is that it’s basically saying that there’s no chance at all during the dying process or after death for communication with God. (If that’s true, then we should all REALLY be against the death penalty for anyone because by executing them, we may be sending them straight to hell.) Personally, I don’t believe that, for a number of reasons, including 1 Peter 3:19 and 1 Peter 4:6.

  • Guest

    Gimpi1 I concur. But, by doing so, and messaging to the world as she was in the process of dying, she took away the privacy part. But this article trying to say it isn’t suicide? Sorry, it just isn’t so. It’s her right to do as she pleases with her body but let us call it what it is.

  • Guest

    Are you baptist, episcopalian, pentecostal, catholic?

  • consumer87

    Nice response for a person with your credentials. So are you advocating that a woman who is suffering in an abusive relationship is now free to end her life? Perhaps you should practice a little intellectual honesty and write an article about why you believe it’s okay for anyone at any time for any reason to take their own life if they believe their suffering is too great. It sounds like there is a lot of support for that position.

  • gimpi1

    If you regard the Falling Man and other people who jumped from the burning towers on 9-11 as suicide, then that’s consistent. If, however, you regard Ms. Maynard’s act as suicide, but not those who jumped on 9-11 (or for that matter, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire) as not committing suicide, I feel you’re being inconsistent.

  • Guest

    That is the ONLY thing that I can agree with you on. The people in that building were manic. Some trying to cling to a ledge. Some dead on the way down. Very few. if any, did you see coming down like true “jumpers”. There is a difference in the way that 911 victims fell and suicide jumpers fall. Other than that, your are full of…………

  • Like I said, hadn’t really taken a close look at that passage in a while. I actually just pulled out my Greek/English NT, and part of me was expecting to see the Greek say “blasphemo,” but nope. Your translation there (NRSV?) is very close to the original Greek – “speaks against.” So yeah, wide latitude. Context clues would suggest that it has something to do with Jesus’ detractors claiming his power was from the devil, but ultimately that’s an interpretive move.

    …actually, looking again, “blasphemy” does appear in the verse prior (Matthew 12:31). Of course “blasphemy” actually has a fairly wide berth all its own.

    And yeah, you and I are in agreement regarding having to ask for forgiveness in this life. It’s inconsistent, un-Biblical, etc.

  • “If you have ever had to watch someone die under those circumstances, you might have a more compassionate attitude.” I just got done watching my sister die from breast cancer. She trusted God, endured the pain, and created a video in her last days expressing her love for her family and her reverence for God. Could it be that you are so wound up over the thuggery you have witnessed in the American Church (I don’t like it either) that you see a lack of compassion in everyone who disagrees with you? Please reread my comment; I said nothing that should cause anyone to question my compassion. To the contrary, I wrote that Brittany may have been justified in doing what she did, that God might be OK with her choice — that I was in no position to judge. Unfortunately, by deliberately presenting her choice to the whole world, she turned what should have been a private decision into a political full-court press. I don’t know why she did that, but no one should condemn Christians for responding. What is under attack here isn’t one woman’s private choice, but the sovereignty of God. I have two nieces who will come of age in a world that believes people have the right to take life if they feel they are justified. But they don’t. That is solely God’s province.

  • Guest

    Are you truly serious???? Pain can shatter a family and it can shatter the sufferer physically and emotionally

    to the point that hit a wall that they just can’t climb over anymore. Emotional pain can do the same thing. Don’t judge people who take their own lives. We know nothing about what physical or emotional pain they are suffering. Some people are able to cope to the very end. I plan to skid into death in a worn out, torn up, emotionally ravaged, beat up body with the hope that I can look back at a few good times. But I know people who were not able to do that. They are gone now. It breaks my heart that they do not see their children and grandchildren but I cannot judge them for their decision. It is a hard cruel existence and some just don’t want to, or cant, suffer through it any longer.

  • gimpi1

    You didn’t answer his question. Have you experienced someone’s death through the kind of brain-tumor Ms. Maynard suffered from? If not, perhaps you underestimate the value of the experience of others. Either way, shouldn’t people be able to make their own choices and follow their own beliefs?

  • gimpi1

    I’ve seen this as well, and it’s toxic. It makes people blame those suffering for their pain, and kills compassion and empathy. I can’t think of a less spiritual belief-system than the Prosperity Gospel dogma.

  • You’re overcomplicating this. It’s not about “American Evangelical Protestant interpretations of spirituality.” It’s about something very simple: God alone has the right to choose when each of us lives or dies. This is almost a gray area, since Brittany was dying of her illness already. Who could find fault with her for wanting to avoid the awful pain she was headed for? But she turned her private decision into a political platform when she publicized her intent to end her life. Whether Brittany violated God’s sovereignty is between her and God. But by politicizing her decision, she raised the hot-button issue of who gets to take life. No one should be surprised that she got an answer from those who don’t believe the way she did.

  • Nope. Was demonstrating the horrible application of the previous comment that asserted pain is redemptive in nature.

    And speaking of honesty, suggesting that I should write a post about why anyone should be able to kill themselves– insinuating that this is what I believe– is ironically, dishonest of you.

  • You violate your own logic. An abused woman should flee the pain, but for Brittany Maynard, the pain was to be endured because it would encourage the rest of us.

  • Heidi

    I am a follower of Jesus, and I am sickened at the judgement I hear from my camp. I mourn for Brittany, I mourn her pain and her hopeless prognosis. I can’t imagine the pain, the level of hopelessness and the strength of mind it would take to take that pill. Today, I mourn a life ended too soon by a terrible disease.

    Because I know Jesus, who suffered on an infinite level that I will never fully comprehend, I find meaning in my suffering. I think I would have made a different choice because of the meaning I see to suffering. But how can I judge someone who does not have the same meaning and hope for making a choice I wouldn’t make? I can’t.

  • Guest

    You sir, are spouting rubbish. I worked for an organization that
    assisted in helping abused women and their children seek shelter. If they managed to find a way out, the savage would try to track them down. We had to have safe houses and connections with other safe houses to transport them out of the region, where they had lived their lives and had to leave loved ones behind, to start over in a new location, all because of a single solitary, savage, sadistic, control freak, non-human, individual. These women weren’t strong when they came to us. Their children weren’t strong when they came to us. They were in fear for their lives! I hope that you do not have any children of either sex. I can see how you could make a case for a son to be a beater and a daughter to take a beating.

  • No, I haven’t. Nor do I wish it on anyone. And I reiterate that I am in no position to judge Brittany. I am responding to the political statement she made by publicizing her decision. To that, I say: I believe there is a higher good than self-determination and avoiding pain, and that is to trust and obey God.

  • Nope. Being trapped on upper levels, walking to the ledge, making the sign of the cross, finding someone to jump with you and hold your hand on the way down, all because you know the chances of escaping the building are slim to none and jumping is a more painless death, is the same thing as swallowing pills you know will kill you.

  • The unforgivable sin was blasphemy against the HS, as you note. This was a sin that could only be committed during the life of Christ, because it was the sin of claiming that Jesus did what he did by the power of Satan. Basically, if you saw Jesus face to face and said he was an evil fraud in cahoots with Satan, that was the unforgivable sin.

  • Guest

    Then you may call me inconsistent. I was not alive during the TSW fire and do not know if there were studies afterward. However I believe that it would be much like the 911 tragedy. The difference is that the people in that building were manic. Some trying to cling to a
    ledge. Some dead on the way down. There were very few, if any, that were falling like true “jumpers”. The horrible photo of “Falling Man” shows that. There is a difference in the way that 911
    victims fell and suicide jumpers fall. When Brittany decided to end her life, on her own terms, she set a date, she took her prescribed life ending pills, and died. However, she was not manic. She was able to type on her laptop and talk with family. I don’t condemn her. I simply see it as two very different cases.

  • Of course it was rubbish. I was being facetious to demonstrate as such.

  • gimpi1

    You are entitled to that belief. Ms. Maynard was also entitled to her different beliefs. Her actions were perhaps taken to call attention to her own beliefs, and she had the right to make them. As do you.

    I can respect your beliefs, but I freely admit I don’t understand them. I can’t imagine a deity worthy of worship that wants people to endure needless suffering to display trust. I see no higher good in that.

    I took care of my father in later years, with brain damage from an earlier traumatic injury. One thing I’ve noticed, caregivers and those who have lost someone to long-term debilitating illness often have a very different view from those who haven’t had that experience. Do you see that? If so, how do you view it?

  • So I was on track with the context clues, after all! Guess I gotta start giving myself a little more credit; I’m too quick to say “but that’s just my opinion” or “I could be completely wrong here.” I could write about why that is, but that’s a rant for another time :-P

  • consumer87

    So where do you draw the line objectively?

  • Guest

    I am not judging her, nor condemning her. Suicide has affected my own family. I just disagree with the article. She is free to do with her body as she pleases. But it is what it is. from Latin sui ‘of oneself’ + caedere ‘kill.’ Suicide.

  • Guest

    Well you certainly do it very well!

  • gimpi1

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree on that. And that’s fine, that’s what makes horses race:-)

  • gimpi1

    Aren’t we talking about one?

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I’m not surprised at some peoples’ reactions… grieved that they feel that she somehow sent herself to hell, but not surprised. I’m glad that some here have had positive experiences with the dying. But as we people are unique individuals, we each have different capacities for adversity. It’s related to the same behavior that sees heart disease or other debilitating physical ailments as somehow more real than, say, mental illness. It’s a strange attitude that seems to insist every person just “suck it up and deal with” any adversity.

    I see Ms. Maynard’s decision as a choice between difficulty and that which is intolerable.

    And, I must insert a full-disclosure here, as I’ve had quite a few Bible verses thrown my way. I make no claim to being what a modern-day Christian, especially Evangelical, would consider one. I’m not an atheist, but neither am I of like-mind with most of the folks here. I am here because I appreciate Ben’s writing, his peaceful demeanor, and I happen to have more commonality with his thought than not (just perhaps using different terminology, but agreement with the concepts.)

    As such, I consider myself a guest here, and try not to poop on the furniture, but quoting English translations of Hebrew and Greek concepts in Bible verses really doesn’t have much applicability for me. Much to the horror of many in my circle, I don’t subscribe to that leatherbound book at my elbow as the “sole rule and guide of my faith.”

    Just saying the latter to avoid the thinking that I’m a churchgoing Christian. Formerly Fundie, though, does apply, as I spent more than a decade deep in the midst of Contemporary Christian Music and broadcasting, Evangelical Protestant preaching and writing, including plenty by Rhema graduates, as well as Thomas Merton, Tozer and others, thus experiencing the best and worst of Christian thought and living. I harbor no bitterness, I’m aware God loves me in spite of my many faults; it’s just a limiting, black/white, absolutist, authoritarian and binary worldview that I’ve rejected.

  • I lost my sister to cancer last year. She suffered a great deal. If she had chosen to cut her life short, I couldn’t have found fault with her, nor do I find fault with anyone for that. Maybe God wouldn’t either. My point is that we should be very careful about taking things into our hands that belong to God. And who knows what kind of reward may be waiting for those who suffer for the sake of honoring God by respecting his jurisdiction?

  • The abused woman is not killing herself. Think about the times in your life where you have grown the most as a man. Were they when everything was sailing along fine, or were they times that were very difficult and sucked? Let me be clear. I’m not judging Brittany for committing suicide. That’s between her and her maker. The mere fact that some took your clearly facetious post to heart, demonstrates how impressionable people are. This issue has many, many facets. At the end of the day, I think when God is finished with you here, He will take you. If he hasn’t taken you yet, He’s not finished with you.

  • Scott Summers

    Thus supporting my point that she disclosed her choice and intent publically…she actually died privately.

  • Veritacity

    Where did you get the idea that faith is belief without evidence? From Mark Twain? Faith and reason go hand in hand. Faith is not belief in spite of the evidence, it is rather belief in light of the evidence. Reason takes us so far that faith itself is not a leap into the dark, it is merely a step into the light. To not believe that God created us, is frankly to suspend reason and common sense

  • And maybe the miracle isn’t them being healed, but someone else being inspired to go and do great things and affect many others, all from their example. We don’t always know the reason or what the miracle is.

  • So you don’t have faith in God, but you have faith in luck? I’ve been sucked into the twilight zone.

  • Scott Summers

    I have no problem agreeing to disagree…it is the civil way to differ in opinion…which we will continue to do. I still maintain that she disclosed her intent and choice publically…she actually died privately. I think perspective is key in this instance. By “dying” I assume you’re talking about the entire process of making her decision public up to and including the moment she actually died. I’m talking about the actual moment that she ceased to be alive…which did, in fact occur privately.

  • Timothy

    Even worse was one column that chided her for “not using every moment to spread love and compassion” while tearing into a woman dying of terminal cancer. The blatant, explicit hypocrisy of it.

  • gimpi1

    Well, I admit to feeling a bit icky about the whole “respecting God’s jurisdiction” idea. Why is choosing not to endure suffering by ending your life different from choosing not to endure suffering by vaccinating yourself against polio? Why is making use of any medicine “not respecting God’s jurisdiction?” There are folks that make that argument, as I’m sure you’re aware.

    For me, I feel as soon as we started to develop medicine, we usurped the whole “God’s jurisdiction” idea, and that’s great. If there is a God, I have to assume that God is thrilled with our progress in reducing the suffering that is a part of the natural world, and cheers us on when we cure diseases, treat disability, and ease suffering.

    However, with the power we have taken on by developing very effective medicine comes responsibility. When the Bible was written, people generally died pretty quickly of most diseases, no treatment was possible. Someone who couldn’t eat, drink and eliminate waste would die in a few days. Our medicine changed that equation, and we now have to take the responsibility that comes with that power, a responsibility we didn’t have in the past.

    That power also gives us the right to our own choices. With power comes responsibility. With responsibility comes rights. At least, that’s how I do that math.

  • Guest

    I am good with that. I will say, that whether I agree or disagree with her choice, she at least was able to die in the privacy of her own home, with chosen loved ones. For so many people that is just not the case. My 13 year old Rottweiler got a better, more humane death, with me holding her in my arms, then many human beings experience.

  • Guest

    Just checked you out. haha Now I getcha! :)

  • wes

    I have to say she would be free, or has the ability and maybe even the motivation, to end her life; but your stated conclusion and obviously fail to understand a point, ..seems to me you give no craps

  • Guest

    NM,on the religion question, just checked out your profile. Your being cleverly facetious fooled me.

  • Moe

    have you heard of the story of Heather Knies?

    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/mom-stuns-doctors-beating-deadliest-brain-cancer/story?id=18135106

    I just cant help but wonder if Brittany had faith and hope and the COURAGE to FIGHT the so called death sentence, Brittany MAY still be with us today and who knows, like Heather, she may of had kids too(something she WANTED)

    But by ending her life she gave herself ZERO chance of that, using the cancer as an excuse. You can’t come back from death but you may be able to come back if she opted to get the treatment.

    This DWD option, the doctor and the medication that was given and everyone who supported her killed her.

    Your comparison with the 9-11 falling deaths are interesting but if you want to compare the two. The act of staying in the building was what Brittany did, do nothing and die. The act of jumping is what Heather did, jumping will most likely STILL kill you but some how, some way, I MAY be able to survive and that is what they HOPED n CHOSE to do. Obviously highly unlikely and none of them did but like they say, you gotta die trying.
    Suicide shouldn’t be an option to people, it opens up a whole can of worms dealing with peoples LIVES and having other control it if it becomes legalized federally.

    BTW, not a religious person at all. I do believe science does explain a lot of things but it is not bullet-proof and many things are still unexplained. Most these unexplained things have to do with the power of our MINDS. Something science hasn’t gotten a full grasp of YET.

  • Guest

    As a person who believes in God and that Jesus Christ is the son of God, I also believe that God lets our life play out along its own path with our God given ability to make free choices for ourselves as part of the end result of that path. Call me weird, challenge my faith. It’s okay with me. But, my life has been one strange ride, and so has my son’s, and part of it was from free will choices, but a lot of it is the wiring we were born with.

  • Scott Summers

    I cannot disagree at all. I am not one who condemns those who commit suicide anyway, tho I have never contemplated it myself. Both my parents committed suicide at different times and for vastly different reasons. I have used those tragedies to learn about suicide and its many causes…and I counsel families who have lost members to suicide and those who have attempted it or are thinking about it. Too often friends and family are quick to call it a selfish act when, in reality, no one truly knows how bad bad can be to the extent that the alternative is preferable to living…unless they have been there themselves. Anyway, I digress…I agree with you on losing your pet, too. My 14 year old grey tabby died in my arms in 2009 and I will always cherish the look we shared just before he passed. I cried like a baby. All humans at their next plane of existence, whatever that is, should be so lucky as our two pets…and we, were. Be well, my friend.

  • Yamin Tedja

    No, there is a difference between self destruct and suicide. self destruction does not require external source/s or factor/s to cause death. Suicide in this case require the drug to cause death.

  • Moe

    now I am not implying that someone can’t REALLY benefit from death with dignity because we have living wills to instruct how we want to go. The thing is so far there has been more than 750 people in the state of Washington that have used the law to end their lives. The median age of those who have used the law is 71, and only 6, SIX, were younger than 35.

    My issue is for those SIX individuals and Brittany that chose this method before the age of 35.

    Like I said, just can’t help to think that even one or ALL of those individuals that chose this option before the age of 35, could of been the next Heather Knies

    Hope is REAL
    We humans can do MIRACULOUS things if we believe
    And if thats either God, yourself or your lucky underwear, whatever that gives you courage, I am all for.

  • gimpi1

    To me that’s a meaningless distinction. We can’t fly without airplanes, but we can fly. We can’t go 60 miles an hour without a car, but we can travel at 60 MPH. We can’t cure infections without antibiotics, but we can cure many infections. Just because we can’t simply will something to happen doesn’t mean we can’t do it. We’re tool-users.

  • RalphCooper

    My father, who had lived a long, giving, loving life, and was a Christian to model after, had some diminished mental capacity in his last years. Having suffered a broken hip and had surgery, he was sent to rehab. While there, he basically refused to swallow, and lived less than a month. His three children all had been praying a prayer derived from in the Bible, in a passage about the dedication of Jesus at the temple: “Now, Lord, let your servant come home to you in peace.” And with his three children present, Dad passed to his eternal reward with the Savior he worshiped and served as a gentle, loving and successful manager of a business and then as a retiree and widower. It was clear to all of us that he had made a choice, and it was the best one for him.

  • Moe

    “She did not just passively wait for death, she look at him straight in the face and said ‘I am Brittany and welcome you courteously to my house.”
    I liked your post til that comment.
    I disagree, death knocked on her door and she eagerly let him in. She didn’t have to open the door, she easily could of said you got the wrong house like Heather Knies did(read my post for details, if u ‘sort by newest’ it should be there)

  • Moe

    Thank you for sharing you story, I also posted about a survivor named Heather Knies

    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/mom-stuns-doctors-beating-deadliest-brain-cancer/story?id=18135106

    I felt like I was the only one who thinks like this.

  • Ejg

    I would like to comment on this sentence, “…didn’t step up to the ledge because they were in debt or caught in a bad marriage.”

    That is NOT why people commit suicide. People commit suicide because they are depressed. And I mean actually clinically depressed, not depressed in the way society uses that word. These events, being in debt or stuck in a bad marriage, may trigger depressive symptoms or may lead into a clinical depression, but the events themselves are not the cause. Saying they are the cause minimizes the person’s pain. It makes people think, “that’s silly they killed themselves. I’ve been in debt before, I’ve been in a bad marriage, it was hard but I got over it,” Okay, but have you been clinically depressed? Has a clinician actually diagnosed you with Major Depressive Disorder?? No? Then shut your mouth cause you don’t understand and have no room to talk.

  • Patti McNeil

    Thank you for sharing that story! My sister was only 31 and went to the ER for an earache. The doctor saw “pressure” behind her right eye, and ordered a CT scan. A doctor walked in and told her she had a brain tumor. Two days later, she had the tumor removed. Then we got the blowing pathology report: Stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme. She went through chemo and radiation and the tumor has never returned! Her 6 months to a year turned into 15 years and counting!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    ‘Every martyr could technically be considered a suicide, because they could have done or said something to stay alive. Just something to think about.’
    i never thot this before i read this blog and comments but jesus was a suicide i think. not surprised now that he was b/c i think he knows the pain of acting in a way that caused his self distruction and knew he was abandoned by god (he knew the terror of hoplessness and dispare in his final moment of life). did the sinless one not consider suicide a sin?

  • R Vogel

    If you watched any of the video of her speaking about the decision you would know how ignorant that statement is.

  • The great irony is that one of the symptoms of “silo-thinking” is believing beyond a shadow of a doubt that anyone who disagrees with you simply hasn’t thought hard enough about the issue, and has simply moved the goalposts until they meet up with the person’s “shallow” “rationalizations.”

  • Andy

    Great read, Ben. I have seen way too many people fuming over her “suicide” and, of course, a few people saying therefore she’s in hell and so on. I hope there is a paradigm shift wherein we realize there is such a big difference between her decision and that of someone who chooses to commit suicide when death isn’t already at the door. I hope that you are able to reach these people. Thank you.

  • Opportunist.

  • Yes, I have. Lost a grandfather to suicide, and almost committed suicide myself, a story I’ve told publicly. So yes, I do have room to talk.

    Edit: Furthermore, you’ve reversed what I said and then attacked for something I didn’t even say. I stated that the 911 jumpers did NOT simply decide to jump because they were in debt or a bad marriage. Folks have been acting like Brittany ended her life for some temporary, trivial problem, and I was demonstrating that this wasn’t the case for the 911 jumpers or Brittany. Never said anything about anyone else.

  • Moe

    Did you even bother reading my post and article that is posted there?

    and yes, i watched, read her obituary n almost all articles written about this n i still believe what I said

    she had an agenda, its persuasive but I am a believer of “believe nothing what u hear and half what you see”

    mind u, this comes from the same person that was told by one doctor that “she probably didn’t even have weeks to be on her feet,” Yet, she was found climbing 10 mile trails along the ice fields of Alaska with her best friend in the sunshine months later.

    So tell me, reading Heather’s story and how Brittany proved one of her doctors wrong already, do u not think she would of fought the battle if the option wasn’t there? and POSSIBLY living out her life(she said she wanted) and possibly having kids like Heather?

    Again, in my post I said, the option, the doctors, the medication that was given and everyone who supported her, killed her.

    People who beat this horrible disease do it by FIGHTING not folding your hand in life

  • Moe

    Wow, what a true hero and inspiration who demonstrated true courage and bravery.
    Wish Brittany would have talked to your sister or Heather. That is the saddest part of her legalized suicide.

  • CroneEver

    Jesus could have saved Himself – it basically says that all through the New Testament; but His willing walk to death is always referred to as a sacrifice. Basically, if the definition of suicide is depriving oneself of life, either directly (by your own hand) or by allowing one’s self to be killed (by someone else) – which the hard-line anti-suicide crowd seems to hold – then yes, He was. Martyrs were. But the Bible doesn’t seem to hold that definition of suicide.

    I believe there are perfectly understandable reasons to choose one death over another, or death period – most parents would tell you they’d die to protect their child, for example. We rave about teachers who die to protect their students. But then, I think the hard-line anti-suicide crowd need to be quiet and really think about what they’re saying.

  • axelbeingcivil

    One has to wonder if you’re against giving surgical patients or severely injured people anesthetic, then. Surely, if God allows pain for us to become stronger, and we must witness others suffering in agony, is not the attempt to quell pain sinful?

    People who argue in favour of educational pain rarely seem to consider the notion to the natural extent of its application. It only ever seems to apply in certain instances that curiously do not affect them.

  • axelbeingcivil

    That this number of people did not realize this is sarcasm suggests they’ve seen actual people advocating this position, and that makes me very sad.

  • Sagrav

    “We are all dying”? Speak for yourself! I’m living.

  • axelbeingcivil

    You’re digging at technicalities in an analogy. Someone in Murphy’s condition won’t get better. She won’t live to pass through the pain she’s suffering and grow from it. She will die, likely in agony. You are saying that she should suffer and endure and experience that agony so that others might grow from observing it.

    I find that abominable. I find the notion that someone should be forced to suffer against their will so that you can use it to justify your search for meaning abominable. The point Mr. Corey was trying to make was in response to your claim that others should endure suffering, to try and show how applying this logic to its natural extreme is simply vicious and cruel.

  • axelbeingcivil

    Logically, if you derive your statements of what is and isn’t true from evidence, why do you even need a word like faith? What you have is evidence-based reasoning. Ergo, you could scientifically demonstrate any of your claims. Whence comes the need for faith?

    Are you willing to put your faith to the test? To try and demonstrate it empirically? If not, why not?

  • caveofadullam

    The decision to take one’s own life is between you and God. The decision to allow “assisted suicide” (making it legal to end someone else’s life, as long as you have permission) within a society is WRONG TO IT’S CORE.

    Here are the same arguments I would make, but said in a much better way: http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/why-brittany-maynard-should-inspire-us-to-oppose-euthanasia-in-all-cases/

  • axelbeingcivil

    Free will is a curious term. I’ve lately found it something of an attempt at a philosophical “get out of jail free” card.

    Consider how you make decisions. While a great deal of it is unconscious, you’re ultimately assigning weight to the various options set before you and coming to a conclusion based on the weighting granted them. What weights you assign to them come from conscious influences, like the available information and reasoned judgement, and unconscious influences, like seeking pleasure and avoiding pain (with what causes pleasure or pain being something intrinsic to the individual and not derived via reason).

    This means that you, as a system, could theoretically be expected to make the exact same decisions under the exact same circumstances every time. In reality, this is impossible to test – we can’t actually run the exact same you through the exact same conditions over and over; you learn and alter your actions by the mere act of undertaking the experiment – but evidences we actually can observe suggest this is correct.

    In short, the notion that you make decisions is… Troublesome at best. Ultimately, your decisions are a result of internal (genetics, development, current chemical influences, etc.) and external (upbringing, environment, available information, etc.) factors. This means that you’re not free; your decisions are no more a decision than the rolling of a marble through an exceedingly complex machine, flicking switches on the way. Yes, it’s a very complex machine with very complex outcomes, but it’s still a purely mechanistic and deterministic system.

    This would mean that, if God did create the cosmos entirely, every outcome from the first instant onwards would be a direct result of initial conditions. This would mean that everything – from the spectacular beauty of every rainbow and the up-swell of the most wondrous orchestra to the agonizing sufferings of the untold numbers of humanity who have watched their children slip away to dysentery and fever and parasites and predators and war – was a result of that being’s choice in how to create the universe.

    If God is omniscient and omnipotent, this means God chose to create a universe filled with unfathomable amounts of pain and agony and misery and death and suffering. If God is merely omniscient but quite powerful, it means that an existence with agony and misery is one that God considered worthwhile, which raises certain existential questions. If God is merely very powerful (one cannot be omnipotent without being also omniscient), this is just one possible cosmos, but better ones may exist.

  • Veritacity

    Hi axel, are you actually claiming to be a pure empiricist? That is, we can only gain truth via empirical science, i.e., scientific method? :)

  • paganheart

    There are people that advocate that position, or at least there used to be. I am told that many, many years ago, when my grandmother went to church and asked her pastor what to do about my grandfather, who came home roaring drunk and beat her near senseless on a regular basis, the pastor told her to pray that God might make her a better wife. (Or words to that effect.)

  • axelbeingcivil

    I wish I could say that was the first story like that I’ve ever heard. Irie for your grandma.

  • axelbeingcivil

    When the first point you lead with, which is usually the one you consider strongest, is that your opponents choose not to associate a person in agony choosing to end their life with a word that carries a powerful and negative stigma, it is telling as to the strengths of your arguments.

    Right-to-die advocates aren’t comfortable with someone taking their own life because it isn’t something one SHOULD be comfortable with, any more than one should be comfortable with amputating a gangrenous limb. It’s an unhappy, unpleasant, thoroughly unenviable thing to have to decide to do. Certain topics can and should make us feel uncomfortable, and someone who denies others what should be their decision to make for the sake of their own comfort is being a dingbat.

    Similarly, this claim that euthanasia is not just a “personal choice” is true on its face – someone who chooses to end their life affects others – but there’s no choice that is purely personal if it extends beyond one’s own head. Technically, not even then. That it devolves into then talking about doctors having a right to kill their patient is absurd; doctors cannot order someone to take their own life. Assisted suicide laws manage only that; that a doctor is allowed to assist. It’s the patient who must make the decision.

    The Hippocratic Oath, meanwhile, is a physician’s ethics, not absolute moral law. It’s intended to guide physicians to practice medicine. “First, do no harm” has its limits, though; a physician is allowed to punch someone who is assaulting them or restrain a mentally ill patient from leaping out a balcony window.

    And then there’s the slippery slope argument. Good grief, when you have to wave the “But it’s totally not a fallacy this time, guys!” flag, you’ve messed up somewhere. If you try to deny something not because you feel it’s unjustified or immoral but you feel that it logically allows something else, shouldn’t you naturally have a sound argument against the thing you find immoral?

    And finally, this claim that life is valuable… Sure. I agree. Life is exceedingly valuable. All life is valuable. The problem is, people who oppose access to euthanasia are saying THEY get to own it.

    All of it, bunk.

  • Steve Sanders

    Forget the Christianity part. It is irrelevant. Terminal cancer did not kill this woman. A handful of pills from a doctor killed her. She made the choice to take those pills and end her life. Cancer might very well have killed her in the near future, but it didn’t. She and others of her choosing ended her life. You might stop to think that the 9/11 jumpers were not necessarily resolving to die by jumping. Perhaps their decision to jump was one of survival, as if by jumping they thought they stood a better chance of living than by most certainly burning to death. Granted, the risk of death was very high by jumping, but still slightly better odds than certain burning. They chose the slightly less risky choice of survival. They were motivated by an instinct for life, despite the chances, than certain death. This woman CHOSE death. Big difference. One is suicide, certain death. The other a survival instinct to escape certain death, even at high risk.

  • Guest

    That is very interesting. It is a topic that I can even entertain. I was in a serious accident a few years ago. I had my route all mapped out and had pointedly avoided certain routes due to specific reasons. However, on the very last hour of my journey, another person strongly suggested we take the route I had specifically avoided (their reasoning was due to time constraints). I chose to take that route. My life has never been the same. I often wonder if we had started out even seconds earlier or later, stopped at one less stop, etc…would my choice have been the same or would the question have even been posed? Would I have the pain, would I have the resentment, would I question my sanity for “giving in”. The only thing I can come up with is that I had the free will to so no, I refuse to vary from my path, I did not say NO. It has impacted my life in a major way ever since. I am so very fortunate to be alive that I push the other stuff down as much as I can. I am embarrassed that I even bring it up now because I have my life, it just isn’t the same, but I am here to enjoy my family and life in general. And that matters. So, I don’t know, if I hadn’t taken that suggestion, and went on my planned path, then maybe a drunk driver would have mowed me down and I would not be typing this today. So, maybe, free will is an illusion that we hold onto to keep our sanity. How does that sound?

  • Lori

    It makes no more sense to claim that a person might survive a fall from 100+ stories up than it does to claim that the fire might not kill them. Nothing you hope or choose to believe changes that in the slightest.

    Also, unless you’re claiming to be psychic or to have some kind of hotline to the great beyond, you have no idea what the jumpers were thinking when they made their choice. Co-opting them to your argument by claiming that you do is kind of a lousy thing to do when they’re long past able to correct you if they don’t actually agree with you.

  • axelbeingcivil

    That really depends what you mean by truth. I’d argue that the only real means by which we can reliably and demonstrably say with any degree of certainty what our external reality is and how it functions is through experiment and observation. Naturally, this can’t give a perfect understanding of reality – there is always room for error and unknowns; this is why science works by falsification and theory-building, not proof – but it is the only reliable means we have of actually developing an understanding of reality as it actually exists.

    If you mean truth as in purpose, meaning, etc., then you need to go to the philosophy department.

  • Dawn

    Thank you for this article and way of viewing this situation. I have witnessed not only as a nurse, but as a daughter the suffering that is endured with cancer in the last days and hours. I know that God is a loving and forgiving God and for that reason he knows that Brittany did not want to die, did not choose to die, but chose to go to sleep to be with him everlasting and forego the pain and suffering she would have had because she did not have a choice, she was dying and not like one commenter stated “we are all dying”, no, she was really dying…. she had no choice. Yes she went to sleep maybe a few days or hours early, but I have no doubt she had been talking to God and he was there waiting on her to arrive. Thanks again Benjamin, hopefully the people who think its ok to judge her for her actions will receive the same judgement for their ugly thoughts, words and criticisms of something they cannot understand until they are in her shoes.

  • Guest

    Very familiar with that line of thought from pastors. However, I worked for a Christian organization that helped these women flee these monsters.

  • paganheart

    “The judgementalism, I believe, is due to that longstanding view that
    suffering and pain are somehow intrinsically and inherently noble and
    redemptive.”

    I despise that view. I have asthma and lupus. I battle pain and bone-crushing fatigue most days, and, less frequently, the mind-shredding realization that I can’t breathe. I take several medications that have nasty side effects. Despite this I have managed to graduate from college, marry, and hold down a job or two. But about all I got from all that “suffering” are couple of mental illnesses–anxiety and depression–to go with my physical ones.

    No one beats the Reaper, and I know that, someday, one of my illnesses (or complications of it) is going to kill me, assuming I don’t get hit by a bus or find myself in a crashing plane first. I have watched grandparents, uncles, aunts and a two-year-old nephew with leukemia suffer and die slow, painful, horrible deaths. I do not want to go out that way. I have put in writing and let my husband and family know that if I am ever on life support and there is less than a 30 percent chance of recovery, just pull the plug already. I also have decided that when I reach the point that the suffering and pain is too great, I want the option to decline medical care and end my own life, on my own terms. I do not want to go out suffering the way my relatives have done. I have seen what it does to those left behind (induce PTSD, mostly.)

    As others here have noted, we show more mercy to suffering, dying animals than we do humans. I don’t believe in miracle cures. Lots of people prayed for a “miracle” to cure my nephew and promised his parents the prayers would work. They didn’t.

    If you want to string your life out as long as possible, no matter how painful and miserable it becomes, and no matter how much it hurts your loved ones, fine. Your choice. But I want to go out with grace and dignity, with minimal suffering, as Britney Maynard did. And I deserve that right and that choice. We all do.

  • Jeff

    Well said Ben, well said!

  • Yamin Tedja

    I think I get your point, I might have said the wrong thing and I have to correct myself about the difference between self destruct and suicide. After I am think carefully and reading your comment, there is really no difference between self destruct and suicide. Even if human have the ability to self destruct, is it ok to use it? I think not. It is the same as suicide. Thanks for correcting me.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Thank you, and very well-said. No one says everyone has to agree with Ms. Maynards choice as to how she rolled through the exit. That said, the assumptions around seem to be that somehow she just woke up one day after diagnosis and said, “Well, gonna check out now.”

    She struck me as a mature, responsible person, from those accounts I’ve read and seen, and I really don’t think this decision was reached without a whole lot of family and medical input. Folks forget she had said that when the pain became intolerable, then she’d know the right time to prepare. Sounds to me she’d already had plenty and to spare, else this reasonable woman wouldn’t have taken the step.

    I know that I owe myself and those with whom I share my life better than to subject us all to what, contrary to some seemingly Jeanette Oke-style “blessing reports” is seldom an attractive Holy-Ghost camp meeting… many times, regardless of the faith or absence of such in the sufferer, it’s the exact opposite, and few but the very immediate family can stand to be there.

    Yes, I also recall a dear young friend of mine who succumbed to throat cancer after years of existing on morphine and prayer… I’m grateful I was not there to witness the very end, having arrived after the fact, but it was a seriously Vineyard-style prayer meeting, and rather a circus… Whether or not it benefited Paige, it seemed to help the other folks in their grief… I’ll not judge; it just wasn’t for me. It made lots of folks for years thereafter talk about the “sweet spirit” and the “presence,” while, knowing the young lady in question, her last thought was more gratitude the mess was finally over.

    I wrote her a song that night, though, called “I Still Hear You Singing,” which was directed to her alone, and few have ever heard it. That is more to my preference.

  • mirele

    Some people are really, truly afraid of others making a choice, as Ms. Maynard did.

  • Jenniesky

    and now you understand more why people do not want to be a part of your religion….all the hypocritical judging that goes on in your religion is disgusting. I will choose being spiritual every day and twice on Tuesday.

  • Gayle Roberts

    Well said. My mother died of Alzheimer’s disease. A slow awful death that was so painful for the family that there are no words. I had three years of watching her die and living in fear and confusion. I have thought often what I would do if I am diagnosed some day with this disease. I’m not so sure I will choose to put my family through this.

  • lol

    A fundamental difference between this case and most any other non-assisted suicide is the fact that this decision was made with the understanding and support of both her family and many medical professionals. This was not a decision made alone, nor was it a decision made to die as opposed to going on living. I have been affected by suicide as well, and one of the reasons it is so terrible is that it is most often a decision made alone. While the agency and ultimate choice to die on her own terms lay solely with Brittany herself, it was not decided on, nor carried out in solitude.

  • Alyssa Santos

    I nearly died in summer 2011 due to injuries caused by a drunk driver ramming into our family car. I was conscious, in the back of an emergency vehicle, trying very hard to breathe. Breathing became my only job and “Jesus” became the only thought in my head. I’d consciously “said goodbye” to my husband and each of my four kids. I was ready as I think I’ll ever be to give in to whatever the future held, whether it be slipping into eternity or back into life (and just a clue, I’m not writing this comment from a cloud in heaven). I had absolutely no choice but to depend on the EMT to breathe for me. I wanted to live, I kept breathing as long as I could, but I’ll tell you, I had no idea what was wrong with me, the extent of my injuries or the severity of the pain that would be my companion for months as I recovered. I believe in Jesus as my savior, believe in the word of God, but I’ll tell you nothing we do, believe or choose to think we know about God and eternity and our future matters in those final moments–for me there was one name only, Jesus. I can’t explain it. I cannot, will not judge Brittany for her choice. I am sick over the millions of comments on the internet by people assuming they “get it”, assuming they know where she “ended up” and how sad and surprising that would be for her. Until people have peered into the yawning certainty of death, they should spend their time and energy really living and deeply loving their loved ones, not judging. I agree with your words here, yet none of us can be certain of everything that awaits on the other side of the jump, of the pills, of the final breath. We can be quite certain of this: we all need saving, the Jesus kind, because we’re stupid and frail and a puff of breath apart from his mercy.

  • Suzanne Graf Slupesky Beck
  • annon

    With that logic, we should all just kill ourselves when the going gets tough because we’re all going to die anyway, right? Maybe I should kill myself because there’s a chance that I’ll be kidnapped, tortured, raped and beaten for months by my captor. So offing myself now makes more sense.
    I do feel bad for her, but ultimately we need to make our own decisions.

  • Guest

    I nearly died in summer 2011 due to injuries caused by a drunk driver ramming into our family car. I was conscious, in the back of an emergency vehicle, trying very hard to breathe. Breathing became my only job and “Jesus” became the only thought in my head. I’d consciously “said goodbye” to my husband and each of my four kids. I was ready as I think I’ll ever be to give in to whatever the future held, whether it be slipping into eternity or back into life (and just a clue, I’m not writing this comment from a cloud in heaven). I had absolutely no choice but to depend on the EMT to breathe for me. I wanted to live, I kept breathing as long as I could, but I’ll tell you, I had no idea what was wrong with me, the extent of my injuries or the severity of the pain that would be my companion for months as I recovered. I believe in Jesus as my savior, believe in the word of God, but I’ll tell you nothing we do, believe or choose to think we know about God and eternity and our future matters in those final moments–for me there was one name only, Jesus. I can’t explain it. I cannot, will not judge Brittany for her choice. I am sick over the millions of comments on the internet by people assuming they “get it”, assuming they know where she “ended up” and how sad and surprising that would be for her. Until people have peered into the yawning certainty of death, they should spend their time and energy really living and deeply loving their loved ones, not judging. I agree with your words here, yet none of us can be certain of everything that awaits on the other side of the jump, of the pills, of the final breath. We can be quite certain of this: we all need saving, the Jesus kind, because we’re stupid and frail and a puff of breath apart from his mercy.

  • The Eh’theist

    I acknowledge that the motivations cited are different, but do you accept that Jesus’ death was fully a result of his own will and that he willed all of the participants into existence to ensure his will was carried out? Do you acknowledge that if god is omnipotent that he could have achieved his goal of salvation without causing his own death?

    If so, his death was assisted suicide, and that suicide is one of the foundational points of the Christian faith. For all the believers demonizing suicide or trying to reclassify it, as in this post, this realizations should be mind-blowing.

  • Guest

    I don’t dispute any of that. However, as much as the term leaves a bad taste in our mouth, it means what it means. To end ones own life. When you commit suicide it is always ending your life on your own terms. No matter the reason. The only difference with Brittany is that she effectively gained the support of her family and was able to do so with a legal drug. In the majority of cases this is not the case. In all three instances of the people close to me, the people closest to them were the ones to find them, minus most of their heads. The family, got to be the ones who scrubbed their loved ones blood and brains out of the carpet and had to go on living in the home until financially able to move out. It’s good Brittany had all of that support. It is even better that her family did not have to walk in and find her brains splattered against the wall. It is an image that does not leave the person who finds their loved one, even though they accept the reason behind their choice.

  • axelbeingcivil

    That’s not an unreasonable deduction, certainly; a very common reaction to traumatic events is to try and take control. If it was our fault, it means it’s in our power to change it next time. Sometimes this is useful, sometimes it isn’t. I’d advise talking to a psychologist, who can give you much, much better advice than I can.

    Free will is something worth noting that, for all intents and purposes, at least is how reality appears, though. It’s useful enough to say that we can decide a certain way and use our intellects to try and predict/model our future. It’s just not useful from a theological argument perspective.

  • You’re not going to convince anyone by linking to an argument by one of the most foul individuals on the planet.

  • Lark62

    What? No, they did not think they would survive 100 story leap. They knew it was a certain and quick death. Brittany’s death was certain as well. You appear to be completely void of compassion. Thank you for reminding me why I am glad I am no longer a christian.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    yep! uh huh its a fact. she deliberatly, thoughfully killed herself w/ the help of others. suicide in her circumstances is still being stigmatzed. i’m glad you understand.

  • Lark62

    The faith, hope and courage to fight the death sentence? Seriously? She was dying. And no magic sky daddy was going to jump in and save her. She chose to minimize pain and suffering. She chose the manner of her certain death. I’m sorry (not) that she didn’t stick around and suffer to make you more comfortable in your silly beliefs.

  • Gregory Lynn

    I think a large part of the reason that many of the 9-11 jumpers weren’t falling like “typical” jumpers is this: Those who survive suicide attempts very often report that their desire to die vanished in the midst of it, leading to frantic, even panicked efforts to undo their actions…the survival instinct rallying in desperation. Hence, jumpers flailing about and screaming…instinctive attempts to grab something to halt their fall and cry for help.

    By contrast, the 9-11 jumpers knew that they had little to no chance of escaping with their lives, so they decided to end it as quickly and painlessly as possible. They didn’t flail and scream for the same reason Brittany Maynard didn’t struggle and demand that someone give her something to counteract the medications she took to end her life.

  • Lark62

    From your precious link:

    She underwent surgery at another institution, and she enrolled in a drug trial for an oral chemotherapy at Duke University, repeating MRIs every three months.

    This wasn’t some magic sky daddy intervention. Treatment options were available, including surgery. I’m happy for her.

    This does not mean that Brittany’s INOPERABLE cancer was the same.

    Brittany was under no obligation to die in agony to please you or your imaginary sky daddy.

  • Lark62

    Newsflash. An brain tumor that can be surgically removed is not the same as an inoperable brain tumor.

  • Thank you! As one who’s been questioning so many of the things I was taught to believe, I found this really helpful.

  • Lark62

    Any god that would want a person to suffer to fulfill his secret “plan” is a jerk unworthy of worship or obedience.

    There is nothing good about dying in agony. And it is immoral to ask that of anyone else to please some god.

  • Lark62

    So? Her death was certain and soon.

  • Lark62

    Gee. You know two people who had different types of cancer, different symptoms, etc. This is not in any way relevant.

    Brittany was experiencing several seizures a day and was in pain. Her death was certain. There is nothing good about suffering. And any god who finds pleasure in watching people suffer is immoral and unworthy of worship.

  • Lark62

    Why in the world would you want someone to face this decision alone, without the love and support of those who love them and know them? How cruel.

  • Lark62

    So. Your magic sky daddy could save someone months away from death but is unable to save someone minutes away from death. What a wimp.

    Since he has a very long track record of complete and total non intervention in any of the horrors that befall humans (almost like he doesn’t exist at all), one can appreciate why Brittany didn’t exactly hold her breath waiting for his magic intervention.

  • Lark62

    There is no meaning is suffering. None. Zero. Zip. Priests have said for eons that the suffering (of other people) is pleasing to god in order to keep the cold, hungry, suffering masses downtrodden and obedient.

    Any god that would desire suffering is immoral, and, should he exist, is unworthy of worship or praise.

  • Lark62

    If you believe that life is a gift, you would be interested in preserving the quality of life and minimizing the suffering of others. Anyone who values life should be appalled at the thought of a person dying in slow agony after their mind is long gone.

  • Steve Sanders

    Oh, so you profess to know the minds of someone escaping from a fiery building? Brittany’s death was likely, but not certain unless it had played all the way out. And, what does Christianity have to do with anything? Leaving Christianity was your choice alone.

  • Gregory Lynn

    You don’t believe that people have a right to physician-assisted death.

    Logically, I can draw the conclusion that you believe either A) people should suffer whatever life throws at them, no matter how terrible, or B) the decision to end one’s life should be made and carried out only in secret, with the legal and medical systems throwing up as many roadblocks as possible.

    Please correct me and explain more fully if either of those conclusions are wrong.

    For myself, I do believe that people should have a right to end their lives on their own terms. Whether a doctor wants to provide assistance in that or not is up to their judgement and ethics, but the least they can do is give a reference to a doctor who would be willing to assist.

    I think the largest reason we have such an aversion to suicide is the survival instinct. It’s one of the few universals of life, and it’s so strong in most people that we can’t even imagine violating it. It’s made me hesitate at suicide in the past, long enough for other people to stop me, but while I’m now glad I survived, I don’t thank the people who took that choice away, and I can think of several circumstances where I would rather die than be forced to endure. Some would ultimately be temporary, some would be permanent, but it’s not a conclusion I reached lightly or without forethought.

  • Lark62

    Her husband did not “lose out on extra time”. Her husband and the other people she loved did not have to watch her lose her ability to talk, see, hear and think as she slowly died in pain and agony. Have you no compassion at all?

  • Steve Sanders

    As well it should.

  • Lark62

    She did NOT choose to die. She wanted to live. She longed for a long life with her husband. But she was dying and nothing was going to change that fact. She chose to die peacefully and quietly rather than in slow misery and pain.

  • Lark62

    Your lack of compassion and empathy is appalling.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    but why?

  • Lark62

    A person cannot pray when their brain is destroyed by tumors, strokes and seizures.

    I don’t underestimate god. He doesn’t intervene. He doesn’t interfere in any way. It’s almost like he doesn’t even exist.

    Die in horrible agony so that you can praise the loving god who rejoices in suffering. No thanks.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    it is not.

  • Lark62

    Well said.

  • Terry Tiller

    She did try treatments — she only stopped them when her doctors said they weren’t going to be effective. She did try to fight her cancer. She did want to live. Have you seen the CAT scan — the tumor occupied nearly a quarter of her brain. There was not going to be a miracle cure, and she was not going to live another 14 years (I suspect your friend’s tumor was discovered much earlier). She was going to die in the next 2-6 months, and those months were going to be progressively more painful and more debilitating. Shame on anyone who presumes that she would have been a better person — or that her family and those around her would have been better people — if she had elected to suffer every moment of her painful death. She may not have known the future for certain, but you don’t know what went into her decision or what kind of pain she was already experiencing.

  • Lark62

    And every one pretends it isn’t happening. What is so wrong about being honest? When life is over, it is okay to die. We do not have to keep the shell around and pretend that death doesn’t exist.

  • Lark62

    Everyone is dying. How quaint. But not everyone has been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer certain to cause an agonizing death within months.

  • Lark62

    Gag. If god can’t manage an “important encounter” without inflicting severe pain and suffering, he is too weak and sadistic to worship.

  • Christian

    I am an atheist, and I can tell you this is the best, most articulate reasoning I’ve yet read that makes sense to BOTH sides. Thank you for this… sharing with all.

  • Lark62

    What ever is the reason for life, it is not to suffer and die in agony to please some invisible sky daddy.

  • Lark62

    You really cannot tell the difference between facing the certainty of a slow and painful death within months from brain cancer and the fact that “we will all die someday”? Wow.

  • Terry Tiller

    No offense, but you have absolutely no way of knowing what was going on in the minds of those who jumped from the WTC on 9/11, just as you have no way of knowing what was going on in Brittany’s mind and heart. You are welcome to your views, but I respectfully submit that you are making tremendous leaps in logic to say that the Falling Man was unaware of what he was doing (and so did not really commit suicide), but Brittany did, so she was sinning. I absolutely will not believe in a God that promises eternal, unconditional love, and then requires us to suffer unimaginable pain to be with Him.

  • Lark62

    And all this is relevant how?

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i think there is a lot of ‘ifs’ that just can’t be humanely applied in a ‘one size fits all’ manner to individual circumstances and responcibility for killing oneself. for the mentally ill homeless, unemployed or under employed homeless medical insurance, a safe place to live out of the weather, good nutritious food on a daily basis, adiquate clothing, being criminalized for sleeping in public = slow suicide.

  • Chris A

    So many things in life that we take for granted prove your response is a knee-jerk resistance to discomfort, and ultimately not correct. Remember, you chose to say suffering has no meaning, “None. Zero. Zip”… For your sake, in this argument I will leave the theological out of the argument.

    Every movie you watch keeps your attention because of suffering, pain, strife, discomfort and challenge. The hero overcomes adversity, and typically suffers immensely in the process.

    Every sport we are obsessed with has two sides in opposition. Each team suffers at some point (loses!) which drives them to improve and next time win.

    Every failure at work or school hurts and then inspires us to do better next time and learn from our mistakes. Then we are promoted.

    It hurts to remove a splinter, but provides relief once complete.

    Every mother suffers significantly to give birth, but is given a life changing blessing at the end.

    I understand that on the surface these are much simpler examples than Brittany’s situation. But, each of these things prove that suffering/adversity/pain can be life-changing AND meaningful.

    To willfully inflict unnecessary pain upon others is immoral. Pain and suffering in and of itself is neither moral nor immoral.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    fee fi foe fum i think i hear a troll beating his tom tom or drum. please don’t feed them!

  • Lark62

    Thank you so much for providing illogic and sap to the real life situations faced by real people lacking your keen biblical insight.

    She was dying. She was going to die a slow and agonizing death. There is nothing whatsoever good or pleasing or touching or refreshing about dying in agony. If this brings glory to god, your god is evil. .

  • I’ll have to admit, while I have an overall aversion to Matt Walsh, I did read the post, and he has some valid points. And I am considering them. Sure I wish someone else had made them, but it is what it is.

  • Lark62

    She was dying. There is no “bigger picture.” She was not going to be “made stronger.”

    Only an evil and immoral god would demand suffering.

  • Lark62

    Maybe he is of the Mother Teresa school of worshiping god. She wouldn’t give morphine to cancer patients, and wouldn’t replace dull needles, because the suffering of the poor is pleasing to god.

    Fortunately for her, god apparently didn’t expect famous nuns to suffer, since she was treated in the best hospitals in the US and Europe. No dull needles for her.

  • Terry Tiller

    The presumptuousness of believing you know what was going through the minds of the 9/11 jumpers, or that you know how Brittany and her family felt about her diagnosis, is simply mind-boggling. Likewise, your assumption that she “must not” have had a close relationship to God. Similarly, hospice help does not guarantee being pain-free, or even comfortable. There is a point, especially with cancer, where the pain cannot be taken away without giving what would be a lethal dose of the pain meds. They try to keep patients as comfortable as possible, nothing more. None of us knows what kind or how much pain Brittany might have already been experiencing, yet some of you are so quick to judge.
    I don’t know about the 9/11 jumpers, but I do know that during the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, many of the young girls held hands and jumped together, which seems to me to indicate a level of conscious thought. Perhaps you would judge them harshly as well.

  • Lark62

    I do not expect any person facing a painful death from cancer to prolong her life and endure suffering because “there is meaning in pain.”

    Moral and empathetic people seek to minimize suffering.

  • Terry Tiller

    Why shouldn’t he? You certainly did:
    “You might stop to think that the 9/11 jumpers were not necessarily resolving to die by jumping. Perhaps their decision to jump was one of survival, as if by jumping they thought they stood a better chance of living than by most certainly burning to death.”
    Take a good, long look at Brittany’s CAT scan — which shows a tumor taking up nearly a quarter of her brain — and tell me that her death was “likely but not certain.”

  • Lark62

    Have you ever been in a 100 story building? I find it unlikely that every one of the people who jumped believed that they had a chance of survival. That is not a rational thought and even in extreme stress most humans are capable of rational thought.

    I found your statement that Brittany “chose death” highly offensive. This lady, from her own statements, desperately wanted to live a full life with her husband. She did not “chose death.” She was dying, suffering pain and frequent seizures and strokes, and death was certain and imminent.

    False hope is not “choosing life.” Among the choices she had, she chose to minimize pain and minimize the suffering of her family. To summarize this by saying that this lady “chose death” is wrong, and to me, indicates a serious lack of empathy and compassion. YMMV.

    I acknowledge that some christians are quite capable of empathy and compassion.

  • Paul Moore

    As a terminally ill person I have just one thing to say to you Steve. Until you are in my shoes you have no idea of what you’re talking about and your arrogance is unbelievable!! When you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, then we’ll see if your balls are as big as your mouth!!

  • Straw man. I’ve never said that.

  • Chris A

    I agree, moral and empathetic people seek to minimize suffering. Do you agree that pain can be meaningful and even life-changing?

  • Chris A

    I agree, Moral and empathetic people seek to minimize suffering. Do you agree that pain and suffering can be meaningful and even life-changing?

  • False equivalency; Job didn’t have a terminal illness.

    Further, I’d be careful with the “playing God” and “God’s time” nonsense. Death is the enemy that Jesus came to destroy. Death, disease, are not God’s invention, not his will, and not his desire. Dying isn’t ever on God’s time at all.

  • Guest

    Well, as you can see, I had attempted to control every step of my trip, prior to the traumatic event, yet, gave up control, of my own “free will” at the final hour, only to suffer the traumatic event. I simply over analyze it now and deal with the after effects in my own way. A need for control, controls a lot of us, I do not need a psychologist to figure that out or to deal with my anger at myself for being weak and relinquishing control. However, I did visit with one, for a bit, to find a way to overcome the mental barriers, left over from the accident, that kept me from enjoying my long time passion of m/c riding. As far as the theological perspective, I can see your point, it was set in stone that Pontius Pilot would “wash his hands” and that Judas Iscariot would betray Christ. (Note also: Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.) So, I guess I should have said, we all have the ability to plan.

  • Lark62

    In a perfect and ideal world, no person on this planet would ever have a chance to find out.

    As it is, we grow. We can only do our best with the hand that is dealt.

  • Chat07

    1) I did not say that those who jumped were not thinking, I was saying that their actions is more instinctual given the circumstance and human instinct is for self-preservation not suicide.
    2) If you really believe in God and is a Christian then you would know that we were saved because Jesus did not take the “easy way out”, HE suffered unbearable pain just to save us. Jesus, like those who were suffering from terminal illness, also begged GOD the FATHER to take the suffering from Him when He was praying so intently He started sweating blood but at the end, what did He do? He accepted the will of the Father… carried his cross and died for our sins (in the most horrific and humiliating way possible). The Bible never promised comfort in this life but it has referred to sufferings and bearing crosses NUMEROUS times and that if we are true Christians “we will take our cross and follow Him”
    3) Don’t think that this is all theory to me because my father had a terminal disease but since we believed that “all things work together for the good of those who love Him” we accepted God’s will for our lives. It gives us the opportunity to be closer as a family, we forgive, we healed each other’s souls. My dad surrendered himself to God, and we did everything we can to make him comfortable and most importantly to make him feel that he is loved — unconditionally. He has worth and dignity even when he can no longer bathe himself or feed himself. We did it for him. It was an opportunity for us to walk the talk about us loving our parents no matter what. He passed a month ago and we took care of him for more than a year, his prognosis was 2 months and numerous doctors said he will feel excruciating pain. We took the prognosis with a grain of salt, prayed intently not necessarily for healing but for GOD’s will to happen and for us to be able to accept it. My dad became very weak but he never felt pain, he lived beyond “the doctor’s timeline” and he died in peace knowing that he is loved unconditionally.

    Peace be with you.

  • Kisha

    I have worked in health care as a nurse for 18 years including hospice and have endured much sickness in my own life trying my best currently to stay off of dialysis after watching my father and several family members deal with that for several years. I don’t agree with suicide because of my faith. It may seem silly to some but I believe my prayers will be answered to avoid this fate or the strength will be provided to endure it. As the three Hebrew boys facing the fiery furnace believed even if He doesn’t save me I still know He can. The very definition of faith and faith is essential to enter the kingdom of God. Without faith it is impossible to please God.

  • Chris A

    Where did my comments go?

  • Lark62

    She was able, thanks to love, resources and time, to chose the manner of her death. Quiet and painfree or long and painful.

    To say that this young woman who longed to live a full life with her husband, have a family, and grow old with him “chose death” is heartless and offensive.

  • Lark62

    Yes. Next these people will be telling us that if she just would have had more sense, she would never have chosen to get cancer…. Silly Brittany. (Not)

  • Lark62

    I wouldn’t. I do not belong to any god. Not your god nor any of the other 3000 or so gods that have been worshiped by mankind. The idea that human beings “belong” to some invisible supernatural something or other is just plain bizarre.

  • michaelkingsford

    I just can’t imagine watching my son or daughter take their own life, when we have hospice care available. I worked with men & women dying from AIDS during the height of the epidemic and hospice workers and doctors did a wonderful job in keeping our patients comfortable until they died. The workers also comforted the friends and families and made death a holy, loving experience. I would have gone literally over the edge when she swallowed those pills herself had Brittany been my daughter. I have tried to discern why I feel that there is such a huge difference, when both produce the same outcome and I cannot. It is something I feel deep in my heart.

  • Alice Doyle

    I think this is what you call a red herring argument. Are you seriously suggesting that the “decision” made by the terrified victims of a major terrorist attack is equivalent to the one made by a person with a terminal diagnosis 10 months after the fact? A plane hit the tower where those people were going about their business on 9-11. They had very little time to process that fact or their fate and they had to be terrified. In that situation, aren’t reason and judgement so seriously impaired as to be almost useless to most people? I’m sure Brittany Maynard was terrified as well. Still, if she voluntarily planned the date of her death and took those pills to kill herself, she committed suicide. The definition of suicide is “to kill oneself”. Let’s not change definitions to whitewash anything here. The cancer would probably have killed her but it didn’t. She killed herself before it could. Interestingly, a lot of the comments about Brittany were also made about Robin Williams’ suicide. All this talk about not judging him and his pain. OK. But–suicide is wrong. For several reasons, including the fact that it encourages other suffering people to give up hope. We all judge every day. It is essential to judge something right if it is right and wrong if it is wrong. That is why God gave us brains. This is totally different from judging a person and his/her soul.

  • I’m sorry Alice but it seems to me that there are already way too many people here saying, in effect, “Suicide is wrong. That is the law. She was wrong. End of story.” :(

  • Reading some of the comments here, I think I start to understand how Jesus was feeling each time he called out the attitude and behaviour of the pharisees. There seems to be more concern with ‘proving’ this woman’s action was suicide so it can be denounced as sin, than in “grieving with those who grieve”. It’s interesting to see which bits of the bible we like to champion… and which bits we choose to overlook.

  • Alice Doyle

    Saying suicide is wrong is not the same as saying she was wrong meaning , eternally damned. I think the 9-11 argument is ridiculous and disrespectful. No one that day stepped up to a ledge and calmly chose an easier way. How does anyone know what those people were thinking? Brittany Maynard had time to consider her options and she made videos telling us what she was thinking. Two very different situations.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    no it isn’t.

  • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

    Judge not, lest ye be judged.

    There is no purpose in condemning Brittany Maynard. She was human. She was suffering. I am an atheist, but I pray for her. Pray to what for her, I don’t know, but I still pray. If there is something out there that can hear me and cares, I hope it listens.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i think maybe in those two examples of ‘suicide’ i have the privilege of considering what my own attempts mean to me. I can validate my own experiences by seeing that others like me face challenges of living w/ unsolvable existential probs. I wish I had more tolerance patience and love for ppl who cannot appreciate the challenges of other ppl who have no choice but to walk w/ suicide looming over them invading very thought, dominating waking Imagination b/c lack of Empathy for ppl is really hell.

  • Nick Winters

    But that’s a silly extrapolation. There’s OBVIOUSLY a world of difference between “I might get hit by a car and die in horrid agony” (even more likely than your scenarios) and “I WILL, CERTAINLY, 99.9% LIKELY, die in horrible agony over the course of the next year”. Or when the building finishes burning.

    Do you see the difference? It’s just silly to equate a faint chance with a near absolute medical certainty.

  • I think I hear what you are saying Alice – one situation was a panicked response, and one was calm and reasoned. Is that correct? If so, I agree that was a difference.

    But, can you see the similarity (I believe the author is pointing out) that both times, people were facing certain death and had to make a choice about how that was going to occur? Given that similarity, how can one be condemned as suicide and one met with compassion?

  • Nick Winters

    And some did actually simply jump. It’s there in the videos. But I’ll agree with you that by definition what those particular ones did was also suicide.

  • Alice Doyle

    Suicide is a word. It has an agreed upon definition that can be found in the dictionary. Brittany Maynard killed herself. She made videos saying she was going to do it. She committed suicide. Anyone commenting on the actions of the jumpers is speculating about what they were thinking. They can’t know. I would guess that the situation put them in the category of temporarily insane. Completely and totally different situation. And using their case to justify other people’s suicides is, to me, like adding to the terrorists’ toll that day.

  • The Eh’theist

    Perhaps you’ve heard of the story of Daniel and the fiery furnace in the Bible? Now that I’ve reminded you, do you still want to try and argue for the points you made above?

  • Is there no room for recognizing one as suicide, but meeting both situations with compassion?

    Reading Ben’s post initially had me rethinking my position on euthanasia, but a few conversations with friends and some thought provoking comments here have me leaning back toward my original beliefs.

    But I honestly don’t understand how anyone has it in them to sit in callous judgement of someone whose life circumstances led them to take their own life. And I don’t think that’s what Alice (or many others) are doing here. Granted there are those people. I just don’t get it, but they exist.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Yes, it’s a word. It’s also a very loaded word when wielded like a cudgel… Very much like “liberal.” It’s a word, and it’s a label I wear proudly with no apology, but depending on who’s using it and in what context, what’s behind it can be quite a bit of malice, and it’s frequently used as an insult here on this blog as well as many others across the Disqusphere.

    Insisting ‘suicide’ is just a word, Alice, is denying the reasoning and motive behind the speaker. It’s trying to insist on a pedantic stance as an answer to a valid accusation. Selective literalism.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Yes, the word suicide is defined in the dictionary as “self-killing.” So, yes, if you are insisting on exact literalism, that’s what it was, and dancing euphemisms around will not lessen that fact.

    What is disputed by myself and many here about self-killing, or “suicide,” if you insist, is the idea that there is no justification for it, no valid reason, and that it’s invariably a bad thing. That sort of true-believerism translates as well for most issues these days. “I’m right, they’re wrong, there is no discussion or compromise because my pastor told me that God said it, I believe it, and that settles it. And since I’m right, I have the right to control anyone else’s life choices and actions.” Whether it’s voiced aloud, the thought is still there, even in rudimentary form.

  • Chip

    For clarification purposes: In a broader sense (well beyond the Brittany Maynard situation, and not speaking of victims of abuse here), are you saying that pain is never used redemptively by God for our good?

  • Steve Sanders

    I have been to the very top of the former World Trade Center towers. I grew up in NY. I have also been in similar combat situations where you must quickly choose between two equally deadly situations. You run from one to the other in hopes of survival. You know the risk, but at no time are you hoping or expecting to die. You are praying with all your heart for life, for survival. What I find offensive is a medical system that helps people commit suicide based on an arbitrary quality of life. How long until that choice becomes mandatory instead of voluntary. Euthanasia is a slippery moral slope.

  • consumer87

    “Swallowing pills you know will kill you.” Both by your description were making fully informed and conscious decisions to take their own life… but neither committed suicide right? So what is the definition of suicide again?

  • Chip

    Sarah, I’m sorry you’ve encountered this response. In my experience, it’s a rarity. I believe that most Christians who believe that Brittany made a tragic mistake in ending her own life (and I am one of them) did not have any expectations of a particular outcome. You might be right that her remaining days would have been filled with suffering. But we just don’t know that with any amount of certainty, and things might have improved for her substantially. It’s not an issue of anyone lacking faith, nor of expecting miracles, but of not knowing what God will do. I have seen a friend with leukemia whom doctors expected to die in his mid-20s not only survive, but thrive; two decades later, he’s happily married with a wife and kids. The rector of my parish nearly died a year ago and is still with us; he’s sometimes not well but sometimes is remarkably rejuvenated and active in church. The doctors have several times over the past year-and-a-half said he has only a few weeks left to live, but he keeps confounding their expectations. On the other hand, my mother passed away just about when doctors expected. The point is that we do not know anyone’s future — which means that we do not know what God will do in a person’s life, whether that person is healthy, ill, or near death. So it is out of humility that Christians historically have opposed the taking of one’s own life.

    I suspect that the key difference for some of us reading this blog is how active we believe God is involved with peoples’ lives. You don’t have to be a Calvinist (I am not one) to believe that we only have life and breath by the will of God at any given moment, and to believe (with Psalm 139) that in unfathomable ways he superintends our birth, life, and death. Again, this is not something understandable from a human perspective, but it is probably the key reason why Christianity historically has opposed suicide in any form (i.e., physician-assisted or not).

  • Lark62

    Now you are professing to know the minds of people trapped in the World Trade Center. But if it makes you happy to believe that people leaping 100 stories thought they would survive, go for it.

    As for slippery slopes, get real. Cars can kill people, so letting people drive is a “slippery slope”. Anything can be a slippery slope. Laws need to be rational, not religious based fear mongering and moralizing.

  • It seems you are trying to play it both ways here. Apparently no-one can speculate about the thoughts of the jumpers, and yet you do by guessing that they were temporarily insane. Thus supposedly proving your point.

    But you haven’t done so, in my opinion. Both people’s actions caused their deaths. The possible state of their minds at that point is immaterial. (And if you cannot know the state of mind of those right at the moment they jumped, you also cannot know the state of mind of BM when she took those pills.)

    I’m not trying to ‘justify’ anything. I am simply trying to explore an difficult issue without being told that you, or anyone else, has the definitive truth. I’m a bit over people being so sure of themselves over complex moral issues that they want to shut down any conversation from others. I hope you can respect that.

  • LauraAnn Johnston

    Voluntarily taking lethal drugs is just as much suicide as when my brother hung himself 13 years ago. This little girl did not die from cancer. She died from a lethal combination of drugs which makes it suicide.

  • Veritacity

    Good answer axel. I appreciate your thoughts. I think most would agree that in addition to empirical means, that logic would be one of the additional epistemological means of determining truth. For instance, if one were to make the truth claim such as, “The scientific method is the only means of determining what is true”, this would be a self-defeating statement. The reason is obvious. Philosophical statements cannot themselves be scientifically examined. Concerning my original statement concerning Theism, I was of course, referring to the reasonableness of Theism based upon the knowledge that everything that we observe which bears the mark of design is known to have a designer. From Mt. Rushmore to Microsoft Office we see the evidence of intelligence preceding design. In computer programs the intelligence precedes the information. In my opinion we would have to suspend reason to suspect something that is as incredibly complex and information rich as human DNA would possibly be an exception to all we currently know and empirically observe: Intelligence preceding Information. This is of course how I view the matter coming at it from a Theistic worldview, and I completely respect you if you see it differently.

  • LauraAnn Johnston

    Just how are seizures crippling? I’ve had 30-40 in my lifetime and other that a small loss of short-term memory and excruciating headaches have had no ill effects from the seizures.

  • Appreciate your comment Mike, but I’d like to ask why we have to label it at all? Lets just set that aside and skip straight to the “meeting both situations with compassion” part. I think that’s a brilliant suggestion :)

  • LauraAnn, I’m genuinely glad to hear that your affliction has not led to any permanent ill effects, but that doesn’t mean your experience is universal.

  • Oana79

    I have noticed the split myself over the issue: the “bad”, judgemental Christians versus the open-minded and compassionate non-Christians.
    And it sort of makes me mad.
    On many levels.
    1. I am a Christian. I don’t agree with her decision. That does not make me judgemental. It makes me a human being. We all express opinions.
    2. I read it over and over again that Christians are also idealists and have no clue about that death and pain is. I actually do about both. My baby boy died of leukaemia in July at only 5 months. In excruciating pain.
    And still, I wouldn’t follow in Brittany’s footsteps and choose the way I die even if I get the same sort of cancer she did.
    3. Do you guys care about why I don’t agree or want to hear my reasoning, now you know my circumstances? I doubt it. Because our reactions to things we read or hear are visceral and motivated by things much deeper than the facts. It is our own fear, pain, past hurts that motivate us to take sides. Not our affiliation or non-affiliation to God’s institutions. Be blessed.

  • LauraAnn Johnston

    It is among those of us that live with Epilepsy on a daily basis and seizures are certainly no reason to commit suicide. Try learning the facts about Epilepsy, afterall it is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. If you want to know more about seizures, I would certainly love to educate you and all other misinformed individual on what seizures are and what they are not.

  • Wow, don’t you do grace in your interactions with others!?

    And in case you missed it, we are talking about someone dying of brain cancer, not someone suffering from epilepsy :)

  • Chris B

    This article’s argument hinges upon a confusion of two different sorts of acts. (1) Avoiding a painful death by doing something that itself *avoids* the painful death (jumping out of a window), but as a consequence also leads to your death (by falling to the ground)–but your death is *not* that by which you seek to avoid the pain. (2) Choosing to die so that you cannot suffer the pain—the death is the means by which the agonizing death is avoided. These are distinct sorts of moral acts, even if you think them both justified. Case (1) is a type of double-effect. Case (2) is not. The Falling Man did the first type of act-—he didn’t choose to die so that he wouldn’t suffer an agonizing death; he chose to avoid the flames by jumping out of the building; he knew he would die by this, but it was not his *death itself* that was the means of avoidance. Brittany Maynard chose to die, and it was her death itself that was the means of avoidance of the agonizing death. This is not a specious distinction. It applies in many different sorts of ethical cases. At the very least, this is a distinction between a direct and indirect action: one in which a result (death) is known and intended, and one in which it is known but not intended.

    The Falling man did not commit direct suicide: he did not directly or intentionally wish his own death. Brittany Maynard did: she directly willed her own death. A person might argue that it was justified, but not because it is the same sort of case as the Falling Man. If the Falling Man, instead of jumping, deliberately shot and killed himself, it would be different: his death would have been directly willed, as a means to avoiding another type of death. This would be a direct suicide, even if somewhat understandable. What he actually did was not direct suicide, at best it was indirect, and probably shouldn’t even be called suicide. Normally jumping out of a tall building is suicide, but it need not be. Doing something *so that* you will die is always suicide. Various physical actions, including taking pills or jumping out of windows, without such an intention, are not always suicide. With such an intention, they always are direct (attempted) suicide.

  • Well said, sir!! Very well said!

  • 243546

    I just want to start out by saying that even though I don’t agree with Miss Murphy’s decision, I also don’t approve of those commending or condoning her. I have two major issues with the position the author has laid out. First, he uses a tenuous analogy comparing Miss Maynard and the 9-11 jumpers. Second, the author does not provide any biblical support for his position.

    The only thing that Miss Maynard and the 9-11 jumpers had in common, was the inevitability of death at some point in the future, which is no different than every other person walking the face of the earth. For a person dealing with cancer, the prognosis for life expectancy provided by doctors is nothing more than an educated guess, and new drugs do become available that can change that prognosis, or even produce an eventual cure.

    I have had personal experience with the form of cancer Miss Murphy was diagnosed with. My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma in September of 2009. She underwent surgery to remove most of the tumor, followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Her life expectancy was 11 months, but she outlived that by 3 years. A big reason for that was because the FDA approved a new cancer drug (Avastin) for use in glioblastoma patients a few months prior to my Mom’s diagnosis.That was a game changer. When the tumor rebounded from the initial treatment, she began the Avastin, and it was able to keep the tumor in check.

    Miss Maynard declined treatment for hew cancer, because she did not want to deal with the potential (not inevitable) side effects of surgery and radiation therapy. My mom experienced everything that Miss Maynard feared would happen to her if she received treatment. The surgery and radiation did effect her ability to walk, and be independent. Despite that, at no point would I say my mom suffered. Over her remaining years she received an outpouring of love from friends and family, became a mother in law, and later a grandmother. She found a new appreciate for mundane life events, and grew deeper in her faith. I know it sounds like a cliche, but she became a light for everyone who knew her.

    I don’t know how Miss Meynards life would have been impacted if she had elected to have treatment, or how God would have worked in her life. Although, neither did she. I feel that we all have a tendency to focus on things we stand to lose, instead of the blessings in our life.

    Second, the bible provides plenty of verses connecting endurance and character to suffering (e.g Job, Romans 4, 1 Peter 5, James 1, just to mention a few) .What is the biblical argument supporting the position that it is acceptable to ends one’s life, because they don’t want to deal with what’s ahead?

  • 243546

    Do you know that Brittany would have endured excruciating pain? It’s certainly possible, but by no means a guarantee. My mother had the exact same form of cancer that Brittany was diagnosed with. Unlike Brittany, she chose to go through with treatment for her cancer, and faced many of the challenges that Brittany feared. At no point did she, or any of the people caring for her, mention anything about excruciating pain. It was no picnic, and her quality of life was not anything close to what it was before receiving treatment. That didn’t prevent her from finding joy in her life, or having an appreciation for the days she had left.

    Believing that God can always pull out a miracle has nothing to do with believing that Brittany should have endured her fate. Brittany should have endured her fate, because God uses hardship, and difficult circumstances to transform and renew our hearts. There’s also the issue of going against God’s will.

  • 243546

    I’m just going to keep asking this question until someone provides a reasonable answer. Can you make a biblical argument supporting the decision to end ones life prematurely?

  • Debra Blouin

    Certain, yes. And tragic, as any death we deem ‘before one’s time” and with great pain. But she had life in her still. She had memories to make. She had love to share. I am sad for her. I am sad that we live in a time where quality of life has been perverted to such a degree that we are comparing terrified and desperate victims of terrorism with no hope of even one last hug from a loved one to a young woman who though facing a daunting prognosis was still lucid, able to laugh, sing, dance, love and be loved. Fighting for every day where even one moment such as that shines through pain and despair-that is heroic.

  • 263646

    Was Samson’s condemnation from committing suicide? Judges-16:29-31
    “By collapsing a building, Samson sacrificed his own life, but in the process destroyed thousands of enemy Philistines.”

    And he’s a martyr for ending his life because it was for a good purpose.

    The Bible also tells us that only the Lord knows the depths of our heart, and that He knows OUR purpose.

    So answer me this, can you make a biblical argument supporting 243546’s right to judge the dead?

  • Debra Blouin

    Actually, yes to the first and no to the second of your questions. I reject your “if- then” premises. Being omnipotent AND consistent, holy AND wholly responsible, God constrained Himself to this path. Your argument is not unlike those who walked by and mocked Jesus. “if you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Although your argument, if I understand it correctly, hinges on the belief that an omnipotent God shouldn’t NEED to do such as this. The need was part of the constraint He put upon Himself. Just as a artist constrains himself to a canvas, a medium, even a subject, God CHOSE constraints in order to achieve a masterpiece. Could He have chosen differently, absolutely. But once the choice was made He committed Himself to that canvass, that medium, that subject. The commitment was part of His nature, even as the artist’s artistic nature is seen not only in the image but in the process.
    The exegesis of this particular seeming paradox in the biblical text–an omnipotent constrained God–is difficult to understand and more difficult to explain in a comment.
    Basically it has to do not only with salvation from sin but also with salvation from human’s retribution for sin–the LAW.

  • Debra Blouin

    Amen

  • Debra Blouin

    I have yet to read a comment like that in any article. If you have, I am sorry. I can see how you might see comments like that on the boards. These are a great medium for conversations that would ahve otherwise never have taken place, but they also bring out the worst in people. People say hurtful things when motivated by fear. It is not my place to try to determine this young woman’s eternal destination. God is great. God is good. God is holy. God is merciful. But most importantly God is Love. My deepest concern is for young people who consider her action heroic. For many reasons, maybe some of those are motivated by a bit of fear, I just don’t think this young woman was a hero for ending her life while she had the ability and strength to love and be loved.

  • Debra Blouin

    You’re right. And it’s sad. Of course it might just be true, but boy I wouldn’t want to be in the position of trying to make that call.

  • Doctor W

    One might say that Jesus committed suicide…

  • Debra Blouin

    Faith is belief without ‘seeing’ not belief without evidence. There are many other senses than sight and there are many kinds of evidence. Don’t confuse evidence and proof. There may not be proof of God, but many a court case has been won on less circumstantial evidence than there is for the existence of God.

  • Debra Blouin

    Sad sorry little man.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    those who seek to save their life shall lose it?

  • Lark62

    The memories would have been of her in pain, of her seizing, of her unable to speak hear think or care for herself. She did not want to leave her loved ones with such memories. She did not consider that to be life.

    Why do some so worship a legalistic view of life that they have no mercy? Why can’t some respect that others do not value minutes above mercy?

  • Lark62

    Maybe Ms. Maynard made her decisions based on the facts of her case rather than anecdotal experience of various relatives of strangers.

    Maybe Ms. Maynard did not not buy into the warped by belief that god is pleased when people suffer. Maybe god even gets a bit disgusted with people who tell other people how great it is to spend your last weeks in pain while all your mental processes have been destroyed by seizures and strokes.

  • john reed

    Except, that is exactly what Jesus Christ did for you on the Cross. He suffered the wages of your sin, so you wouldn’t have to die the second death; the death that is eternal. All you have to do is repent and believe, and you’d be able to understand this “secret plan.” It really is no secret, you are just blinded by your sin. Ask for forgiveness so you you can have access to this “plan.” Or, live in darkness, and die in desperation, just as the young woman in this article did…

  • Lark62

    Ancient tribes all over the world believed that pissed off gods could be pacified by blood sacrifice. The belief was illogical then, and it’s downright ridiculous now.

    My life is quite complete without the belief that a genocidal middle eastern god temporarily killed himself so the people could stop sacrificing goats.

  • Lark62

    Virtual hugs. I grieve for your loss.

  • No, I’m not. God can work in all things as Paul teaches, even if he is not the cause of pain, death, etc.

  • Lark62

    Ancient civilizations around the world practiced blood sacrifice to appease angry gods. Blood sacrifice was illogical then. Now it is downright ridiculous.

    My life is quite complete without the belief that a genocidal middle eastern god temporarily killed himself so people could stop sacrificing goats.

  • gimpi1

    And thank you for being gracious about it.

    I disagree about people having absolute ownership over their own lives, but that’s fine. That’s what makes horses race.

  • The Eh’theist

    You make my point for me, in capital letters. God *chose* to die, and put circumstances into motion to bring about that death. Suicide. Christians attach lots of noble language to it, and attribute sentiments to it to justify their adoration, but choosing to deliberately end one’s life is suicide, and even more so according to theology that claims omnipotence and an inability to be killed without prior consent on the part of Jesus.

    I’ll grant that someone who denies the divinity of Jesus, or the omnipotence of God, can make a different case, but holding to those orthodox doctrines makes his death suicide by centurion.

  • Sarah McDavitt Woods

    No. Faith is belief without evidence. There is no evidence of any kind of eternal life. There is no evidence of any kind that God intervenes in the disease process. There is no evidence of any kind that God exists. Christians believe without evidence.

  • gratuitousviolins

    my father died in hospice, after a long, painful illness. while it was
    the most excruciating and horrible experience of my life to watch him
    suffer and eventually pass on, it taught me greater empathy for
    everyone. it taught me the great empathy my father had throughout his life as a surgeon. i had a profoundly, profoundly deep spiritual experience in hospice (which i feel uncomfortable sharing here, but i needed to note that it happened.) i learned how agonizing life can be, especially those who have had loved ones die after long
    illnesses, and especially for those dying. i would not trade that painful
    experience for anything in the world, as at the least my father was
    given more time with us, and we were given more time with him.

  • 243546

    Have you read up on her situation? Brittany Maynard’s entire decision was based on anecdotal experience. She decided not to receive treatment because of what she thought her life would be like after treatment.

    As far as the rest of your comment is concerned, can you back any of that up with scripture?

  • gimpi1

    Perhaps that’s the reason people are warned against making such judgements. We frankly stink at it.

    We judge those like us with a different standard than people we don’t identify with. We grant grace to ourselves and loved ones that we withhold from those we dislike. Perhaps the Biblical injunction against judging is to warn us that we lack the capacity to judge well.

  • SeraphicFather

    There is a dramatic difference between the person(s) jumping from the trade towers in the moment destruction and Brittany Maynard’s contemplated choice. To bring these two situations together as identical is simply a misappropriation. Those who died the death on the day of 9-11 had endured a horrific moment that would have put them in a place of complete shock and their response to that impossible situation was only in reaction to the impossibility of it all.
    Brittany took her time and thought things out. She made other choices along the way such as, moving to Oregon and the bucket list thing etc. . These were not luxuries the people in the tower had by any measure. Brittany chose death in the way many others with the same circumstances don’t: by a self willed choice that is by definition suicide.

  • Melanie See

    A very wise man once said “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Wish I could remember who said that… hmmmm….

  • Ludovicah

    Suicide IS OK. Everyone should have the choice when and how to check out. The subsequent opinions of others are irrelevant

  • gimpi1

    I’m sorry about your father. If he had chosen to end his life earlier, would you have denied him that option? Would you deny others the right to make their own choice?

    To me, that’s the crux of this issue. People making their own choices, according to their own beliefs.

  • Sarah McDavitt Woods

    Chip- faith is belief without evidence. I served as an oncology chaplain so have seen lots and lots of cases. Christian and non Christian. There is no evidence that God intervenes in the disease process for anyone – Christian or not. Some people are fortunate, some are not. Some people get more time some people get less and it has nothing to do with God or faith but fortune. A person with end stage brain cancer can reasonably expect a wide range of painful, debilitating, and terrifying symptoms. She can also reasonably expect it will kill her. No one has ever survived her illness. I am assuming you are not an oncologist nor have you ever worked on an oncology unit nor have you been a cancer patient. Brittany could not reasonably expect to survive her illness. Yes, she may have had a few good days left at some point. But she decided it wasn’t worth going through hell for a slim chance at a few good days. I’m glad she had the option to end her life before it became a living hell.

  • LauraAnn Johnston

    Gee I thought we were talking about seizures. Try learning about seizures from people who actually have seizures and deal with the possibility of having them every day. By the way, my cousin did have brain cancer. He was given 2 months to live and never once thought of killing himself. We had 4 years of making memories with him. That is something that she denied her family.

  • Alice Doyle

    I’m sorry you have been hurt by the word liberal. That word’s meaning is a little more broad than the word suicide. Maybe you could ask the person what they mean when they say “liberal”? Whenever there is a movement–like the “right to die” movement–one of the first things to be messed with is words. Meanings are changed, “nicer” words are used etc. You said words are used like cudgels–true. Just like fire is used for warmth or to burn down a house. It is not my job to determine a speaker’s motives. Not everyone is kind or even truthful. Respecting the definitive meaning of words keeps things honest regardless of who your dealing with though. If you don’t like “suicide”, you personally might say “she took her own life” or “she killed herself”. Saying the cancer killed her is a lie because she died of an overdose.

  • CJ Caggiano

    You are correct that in this free society I am free to speak my beliefs, and I certainly wouldn’t impose them upon others. Freedom of choice involving human life and death is playing God period. Soon enough there will be no such lies to live by as such that are ‘tolerated’ like abortion and euthanasia. I have been on my deathbed literally hearing a Chaplain speak my last rites to me when all the hope of medicine had faded. If sharing my faith today even saves one person from an untimely/unnecessary death, I will rejoice with the heavens! I am not qualified to judge Brittany, but if acceptance of her decision leads to a legal right to die? I hereby OBJECT!

  • 243546

    Do you really feel like you are giving an honest interpretation of that statement? Jesus’s use of this statement is documented many times though out the NT (e.g Luke 9, 17, John 12, Mark 8, and more). In ever instance, He is referring to dying to oneself, giving up their old life, and experiencing spiritual renewal by becoming a follower of Christ.

  • gimpi1

    I’m not going to go off my meds and watch my joints deform for your viewing pleasure. How I choose to deal with my illness is my choice, not yours. I don’t have to endure unnecessary pain because you believe it will edify someone else.

  • burtmet

    Didn’t god say it is not our place to judge . judge not less you be judged.

  • gimpi1

    If you demand laws inshrining your beliefs, you are placing your beliefs over others. You are insisting that I follow your conscious rather than my own. You are imposing your beliefs on others.

    Tell us what you believe. Make your arguments. Call out tot the heavens. But if you can’t convince you have no right to command. That’s what you do when you make laws.

  • naomi

    The truth of the matter is that none of us know whether or not the falling man fell, jumped or was pushed by someone else. We don’t know if that was his decision or not. Let’s not make assumptions or cast judgement, because only God sees the motives of the heart. In the end, as a nurse, I’d be called a murderer if I were to administer a drug that killed my patient, even of she asked me to give out to her. There are plenty of ways to make someone comfortable at the end of life.

  • 243546

    Melanie, you bring up a good point. It is not our place to condone or condemn Brittney’s decision, even those who disagree with it.

    “Has no one condemned you?”
    “No one, sir.”
    “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

  • Lark62

    Facts from doctors knowledgeable about both her specific situation and the nature of the cancer are not “anecdotes”.

    As for scripture, look at all the verses spouted by the “suffering has meaning” crowd. I’m really not interested.

  • Matthew York

    Curious that this article doesn’t contain the word ‘euthanasia’.

    In my mind it illustrates the difference between killing yourself due to a temporary vs permanent debilitating condition.

    Also seems like a difference between an emotional vs logical motivation.

  • gimpi1

    That’s your choice to make, according to your beliefs. Ms. Maynard made her own choice, according to her own beliefs. You have no right to demand someone “endure their fate” simply to conform to your beliefs, any more than they can demand you follow their beliefs.

    To me, a God who would demand someone suffer needlessly out of obedience is a monster, not a being worthy of worship.

  • paganheart

    Yep. Among conservative Christians I know that’s called “tough love.” “You’re suffering because you’re a sinner, and maybe eventually when you’ve suffered enough, you’ll realize the error of your ways and you’ll stop sinning, and everything will be OK.” Uh, no.

    It’s actually a very destructive philosophy. I’ve been in some bad situations and believe me, I didn’t need to be told how much of a f—up I was. I already knew, thank you very much. Telling me what a horrible person I was did not help nearly as much as being told, “You’re in a tough spot. It must be awful for you. But we care and we are going to help you get better.” The people who told me the former considered themselves “Christians;” most of the people who told me the latter were not, but they were a lot more “Christian” than some of the self-described :”Christians” I knew.

  • Hannah Charlene Puryear

    My best friend died from a seizure he had while sleeping, so I would say they can be pretty crippling for all involved. And she had her family’s blessing to do this. It’s not like she made the decision out of nowhere and didn’t tell anyone.

  • 243546

    Who’s judging?

    Samson isn’t a martyr because he ended his life for a good purpose. He’s a martyr because his life ended while performing the will of God. Judges 14:4 says that God was seeking an occasion against the Philistines.

    ” 3 Then his father and his mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all]our people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she looks good to me.” 4 However, his father and mother did not know that it was of theLord, for He was seeking an occasion against the Philistines. Now at that time the Philistines were ruling over Israel.”

    God had a purpose for Samson, which was to confront the Philistines. We see this confrontation take place in Judges 16.

    “23 Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, “Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.”

    24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying,

    “Our god has delivered our enemy
    into our hands,
    the one who laid waste our land
    and multiplied our slain.”

    25 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, “Bring out Samson to entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them.”

    The Philistines attempted to mock God. God used Samson to crush the Phillistines during a celebration intended to display the superiority of their god.

  • Katie Huber

    I’m so sick of seeing that lie trotted out. I know it’s popular in atheist circles and it makes you feel better about doing fuck all for the poor, but it’s absurd. SAINT Mother Teresa did not refuse to give people morphine because she got off on watching them suffer. It was because of extreme regulatory restrictions and severe punishments handed out for dispensing opioids. It was only 2 or 3 years ago that India started loosening regulations so dying patients could get better pain relief.

  • rachael baker

    To be fair, we are ALL marching toward our eventual deaths. Suicide is suicide. You put your finger on the “trigger” to dispatch your own life whether it is a second sooner or a decade. I haven’t been in her situation, but I was there for the traumatic experience of watching my grandfather who raised me die suddenly before my eyes. Every single moment I had with him before he died was precious. That sparked great pain in my life, but I look back and there was beauty even in those times of pain, and much growth occurred in my life during those times. There can be great beauty in suffering with dignity, and it CAN change lives. It certainly changed mine. As Christians, we are supposed to be preaching a gospel of life. Well this IS life. It’s a fallen world, but it is still LIFE. If God meant for us never to suffer the pains of this world, as “saved” Christians SHOULD be wondering about, then why are we here? God did NOT spare His own son from suffering! Why should we be any different when he calls us to take up our cross and follow him, even to the point of death? Also, changing your viewpoint just because you identify your side of the issue has extremists is not exactly smart. If you look, both sides have extremists. It’s okay to have a general side and still not identify with the extremists. You are your own person.

  • Katie Huber

    And redemptive suffering is not a new concept for Catholics. She never said God loves to watch people suffer, so just stop. She said it’s beautiful when the poor are able to unite their suffering to Christ and offer it as a sacrifice to God. Dislike that theology all you like, but quit making crap up and using hyperbole to castigate a woman who did more in one day for the poor and the suffering than you’ll do in your entire life.

  • 243546

    “Facts from doctors knowledgeable about both her specific situation and the nature of the cancer are not “anecdotes””

    Sure they are. Until the tumor has been removed, and a patient has received radiation and chemo, any opinion about life expectancy and quality of life could only be based on statistical data (life expectency) and the experiences of others (quality of life).

    Your final comment tells me everything I need to know. I respect your right to have your own opinion, but if your not interested in what scripture says on the subject, then you aren’t a Christian, and therefore aren’t in a position to argue how Christians should deal with the subject matter, which is the entire purpose of the article.

  • Considering that a major element of Ben’s article was contesting that very definition as being overly simplistic, an argument that boils down to “but this is the definition” would seem to be ill-conceived.

  • One minor correction, if I may: based on my own personal experience, it seems more accurate to say that fundamentalists see the suffering of others as good. When faced with even small sufferings themselves, I’ve noticed that fundamentalists are very quick to jump to complaining.

  • Lark62

    I guess I don’t understand how “it’s beautiful” when the poor suffer and “offer their suffering to god” differs in any material way from god approving of said suffering.

    If you want, look up neutral research into the way Mother Teresa managed her homes and her finances. There is a rational basis for contempt of her methods.

    Why is it always “the poor” who get to offer their suffering as a sacrifice to god? Why do the wealthy and powerful avail themselves of excellent medical care instead of offering their suffering as a sacrifice?

    I find the idea that a moral or loving god would accept suffering as a sacrifice to him to be disgusting and absurd. YMMV.

  • Lark62

    How long ago did India end their prohibition on sharp needles? Look up the facts from neutral sources and decide for yourself.

  • Veritacity

    Hi again Sarah. To believe that our information packed, complex DNA formed by chance is to put it mildly, ludicrous. Chance and intelligent design are the only two options on the table.
    I guess I’ll just be naive enough to Empirically observe intelligent men designing and forming complex objects – and then proceed to observe those complex objects which cannot be accounted for by human means and Logically conclude that those too were designed and formed by a higher and more powerful intellectual Being. So you see, faith in a God Who cannot be seen is most definitely Not belief without evidence. On the contrary, it is entirely reasonable.
    On the other hand, I would counter-affirm that to fervently (and blindly) hold to the truth-claims that design arose from chaos, that information arose from matter and that life somehow arose from non-life (abiogenesis) – to hold these things would be the epitome of ‘belief without evidence’.

  • 243546

    Where have I made any demands of anyone to do anything?

    It sounds like you are having a conversation different from the one the author intended.The article offers a view point about how Christians should view the issue of suicide in situations where a terminal illness exists. Based on the subject matter, It only makes sense that any follow up conversation regarding the article, should be based on Christian beliefs, not the beliefs of non Christians.

  • Lark62

    I am reasonably certain that “inoperable” still means that an operation to remove the tumor was not among the choices.

  • gimpi1

    Perhaps I’m making an erroneous assumption. I assume you want laws to prevent people from taking the action Ms. Maynard did. If that’s your stance, you are demanding people live according to your beliefs rather than their own.

    If not, if you believe assisted suicide is wrong, but don’t want to have that belief enshrined in law, then you aren’t making demands. If that’s your stance, you’re right, you aren’t demanding anything.

    Christians can regard something as sinful without demanding that civil society back those beliefs up in law. Unmarried people living together, some forms of contraception, drinking liquor, playing cards and dancing are all regarded as sins by some Christian denominations, yet all are legal, and none of the government’s business.

    However, some people don’t appear to be content to make their case, and let people decide if they accept their arguments. They want force of law to compel others to follow the beliefs of their sect. I think that’s wrong. A free society should only use law to prevent us from harming each other, not attempt to regulate our beliefs, or control actions that don’t cause great harm to others.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    It seems you are saying that if one doesn not any longer claim to be in the club, then one should just shut the hell up and let the “Christians” talk…

    Name of this blog is “Formerly Fundie.” I’m well-versed in Christian thought, and walked among the evangelicals for a 10 year season.

    I’d say those like me have plenty of say, thanks.

  • sakaly22

    The fact that many Christians seems to think they have some right to dictate how others live (or in Brittany’s case, die) is what bothers me the most. I read the response Brittany wrote explaining her decision and I believe she put more thought into her decision that any of her condemners put into their outrage at a choice they are not personally having to make. I have no idea what I would do in her situation, but do know for a fact that it will be I feel is best for me and my loved ones, not what the religious zealots think I should do.

    How can anyone who claims to be a loving, compassionate christian person demand that another human being live in pain and suffering? It’s cruel, and just convinces me that christianity, for some, is not about being a good person, but dimly trying to control the actions of others.

  • Lark62

    On what evidence do you conclude that atheists do not help the poor?

    Check out neutral information on Mother Teresa’s methods and finances. There is a rational basis for antipathy.

  • sakaly22

    And I disagree with you, so why should I have to live or die according to what YOU think? You don’t get to make those decisions for anyone but yourself, THAT’S the bigger picture.

  • gimpi1

    If God gives us life, it’s given to us, to use as we see fit. If I give you my house, I don’t have the right to tell you how to decorate the living room.

    If our lives aren’t ours, we’re slaves to God’s will. A deity that wants slaves is not worth worship, in my view.

  • axelbeingcivil

    Logic is a useful means of examining claims, but logic always depends on its axioms. Axioms require evidence or to be presupposed without basis and, while the latter can be useful, it is ultimately only useful for people who agree to the sentiments. “Because human happiness is a good thing, we should work to maximize it” only really works for someone who believes that human happiness is a good thing.

    Logic is a means of demonstrating whether something naturally follows from an initial position, but it can only prove things within the accepted frame, not beyond it. It’s one of those “a system cannot prove itself” issues, y’know?

    Science, meanwhile, gives us a solid basis for determining evidence and, hence, where we can begin with logical deduction. It’s logically true statement to say “In a universe where natural law is organized such that pigs can fly, pigs can fly”, but it requires observation and study to say “We do not likely live in a universe where natural law is organized such that pigs can fly”.

    This is why I’m inherently skeptical towards pure rationalism of the kind espoused by people like Socrates; this notion that one can simply reason one’s way into understanding reality. Reality doesn’t necessarily accord with what humans think it should – quite often, the opposite – and so we have to perform study and experiment if we want our logical deductions to be accurate.

    As for your claim about the mark of design, as someone who is studying biology at present, I can honestly say I do not see any sort of intelligent design in Nature. I see no evidence that complexity requires design; merely a selective process. Indeed, I see quite a degree of evidence that suggests all living creatures bear the marks of tweaking, rather than design, and trade-offs for environmental conditions that, were everything designed, would be unnecessary.

    Similarly, I also see a paradox in your claim, as the system that sustains any sort of intelligence must, intrinsically, be complex. If a complex system requires a more complex creator, that logically means that anything that created the cosmos must be more complex than it and, hence, requires a creator. That creator, in turn, requires a creator, and so on, ad infinitum.

  • gimpi1

    I feel differently. If life is a gift, it’s given to me. To do with what I will. When I give something to someone, I give up all control over it. I can’t give someone a piece of fabric and tell them, “Make anything but a coat out of this. I forbid you to make a coat.” If I put conditions on a gift, it’s not a gift.

  • gimpi1

    What enemy?

  • Guest

    I agree with your position regarding death with dignity, Ben, but your comparison to the 9/11 “jumpers” is flawed.

    You do say, and quite correctly, that these people “didn’t have a real choice to live or die,” but I believe you are mistaken in saying, “they only had a choice in which way they died.”

    Perhaps, since you’ve only recently changed your view on the subject, you haven’t yet given enough thought to what happened to those that fell from the towers to come to this realization, but in their cases, there most assuredly was no element of conscious decision making or choice to take a leap rather than be consumed by smoke and fire.

    You mention “choice’ and ” decision” a number of times and say you can’t imagine having to make it. Imagine you are in the most terrifying hellscape conceivable. You are being burned to death. You can not see. You can not breathe. When you do catch a glimpse of anything, the chaos and destruction around you is so powerful, your mind can’t rationally process any it.

    At this point, all element of choice or decision making are out the window and you are purely operating on base animal fight or flight response. You aren’t thinking, “Gee, I’m going to die in here, I rather choose to take a leap of faith, knowing full well that way will lead to death, as well.” No, instead your more primal survival brain kicks in and makes you do anything you can just to escape from the unbearable nightmare.

    It wasn’t a choice of fire and smoke or jumping to death. Those that did fall, did so either accidentally, trying to save themselves, or merely because the intensity of the inferno and lack of breathable air caused their flight response to seek the only available exit.

    What Brittany did is not comperable. I totally support individuals and their physicians being able to make the choice to plan a death that spares them and their loved ones anguish, but you can’t look at this matter and those who fell from the towers in the same light, when one does have an element of choice and the other does not.

    I see your point, and agree with the sentiment, but the approach is faulty.

  • 243546

    Nope. I’m saying that based on the topic of the article, the conversation should be based on what the bible says about the subject, and in the context of Jesus’s ministry. No one has to be a member of any club to have that conversation.

  • Lark62

    The book of Hebrews. What does “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” mean then if not belief without evidence?

  • Lark62

    “No evidence of conscious decision making…” “it wasn’t a choice….”

    You know this how?

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I see… so we don’t have to be a member of a church congregation, we just have to be among those for whom the Bible is the “sole rule and guide” of our faith. Thanks for clearing that up.

  • Veritacity

    Simply an Uncaused Cause. Causes are not effects and an uncaused cause therefore need not have been caused, because it is not itself an effect or event. It would therefore be a Categorical Fallacy to equate the uncaused cause with a caused effect.
    Concerning the ‘no appearance of design in nature’, I must say that I am speechless on that one. So, I will allow a couple atheists to speak to this for me: In ‘Why Evolution is True’, Jerry Coyne states, “If anything is true about nature, it is that plants and animals seem intricately and almost perfectly designed for living their lives”. Also, in ‘The Blind Watchmaker’, Richard Dawkins states, “Biology is the study of complex things that appear to have been designed for a purpose.” Further, in ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’, Dawkins says organisms look as if they were “meticulously planned”. Of course, both of these men would insist that this appearance of design is merely an illusion, but the appearance is there nonetheless. The theist on the other hand holds to the current logical and empirical evidence that when we see design, we know it was designed.

  • Veritacity

    Lark, this is not what the passage in Hebrews is teaching. If we were to carry that line of reasoning to it’s logical extreme then we would have to say that the more ludicrous and illogical the belief, the greater the faith. On the other hand, God has gone to great lengths to provide us great evidence of His existence: The Bible, a meticulously designed Creation, Reason, Scientific observation, the abundant witness to the Resurrection of Christ, etc…. To be sure, reason and examination of evidence does not eliminate the need for faith, but biblical faith is not belief without evidence, nor is it unreasonable. It is the very opposite of these things.

  • 243546

    There’s still radiation, chemotherapy, and drugs like Avastin, that can all be used to reduce the size of the tumor, and potentially halt it’s growth. Also, new technology and treatments are being developed all the time. Recently, a treatment called NeuroBlate has been making the news. It’s a treatment intended for those with inoperable brain tumors, or tumors that are difficult to get to. Basically, a thin probe is inserted into the tumor, which is then heats up and destroys the tumor. It’s a procedure that is only available in a few locations through out the country.

  • Veritacity

    I appreciate your consistency axel. Most materialists tend to equivocate on this issue. According to a consistent materialistic worldview, mankind is strictly an impressive assortment of molecules and nothing more. Hence, as you inferred (if I am correct), our thoughts and decisions are merely the product of internal bio-chemical process acting to some degree in cooperation with external conditioning influences. In other words, we cannot help what we think or decide – it is all biologically determined for us. Of course, the natural and logically consistent conclusion to this would be that we can hold no one accountable for their actions. Why? Because according to a consistent adherence to this worldview (belief system) – we cannot help it.

  • Lakari

    You know, I have to admit that I didn’t think of it this way. But a counter arguement is: Yes it is suicide. To decide the time of one’s death and taking ones own life is suicide. Is a person with terminal cancer or some form of incurable disease who is doomed for a slow and painful death any different from the person so depressed each day is a struggle? To a person who is mentally ill and can see no happiness, and only sees life as a slow and painful death? I do not condemn those who choose suicide, nor do I judge them. This article points out the people who jumped on 9-11 and chose how they died. They still killed themselves but I don’t condemn or judge them, I am just sorry that there wasn’t a way for them to live. Just like Brittany Maynard, who decided that she didn’t want to prolong the inevitable and took her own life (and death) in her own hands. For everyone who chooses their own death and takes their own lives are suicides. I mean have you looked at the definition of suicide? It means a person who intentionally takes his or her own life! Suicide may be common among those who have mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia, but to choose a less painful death? Still suicide, and I am just saddened that there wasn’t a way to choose life instead.

  • XXLEDOUXX

    Christians watched their beloved Lord Jesus get nailed to a cross. How can you expect them to be sympathetic to someone with an invisible ailment. (I suffer from chronic migraines… who knows, it could be a tumor or cancer… for now I suffer in silence)

  • 243546

    Your initial assumption is erroneous. The rest is spot on. The OT Jews tried to enshrine God’s commandments into law, and were rebuked by Jesus for becoming legalistic. If modern day Christian attempted to do the same thing, wouldn’t that be the same thing?

  • gimpi1

    Well, I think so. Some don’t.

    I’ve met plenty of Christians who want (Christian only) prayer in schools, who want birth-control or assisted suicide outlawed, who want their own rules regarding marriage, sex, home life and belief inshrined in law. I’m glad to see you aren’t one of them. My apologies for assuming you were.

  • axelbeingcivil

    As far as we can tell from reality, all causes are products of effects. A ball rolls down a hill because I pushed, I pushed it because I wanted to see it do so, I wanted to see it do so because of a reward mechanism in my brain that enjoys seeing objects in motion, etc. etc. etc., on and on, all the way back to the origin of the universe.

    What you’re asking is special pleading. Why can you presuppose an uncaused cause for your divine creator but no-one can suppose it for anything else?

    As for the claim of appearance of design, I suppose I would direct you to the Giant’s Causeway. The Giant’s Causeway is a natural rock formation that has the stunning appearance of regular, geometric shapes. We can see these form of patterns occur around the world; they’re entirely natural and have no intelligent hand in their formation (unless you care to invoke a divine watchmaker, one supposes).

    The reason the Giant’s Causeway is so named was because people in a time before we properly understood rock formation saw the shapes and assumed that they must be designed; that they could not possibly naturally form in such a way. These stones were too perfect, too smooth, too regular. They created an amusing and rather enjoyable tale about a giant building a road between Scotland and Ireland, and then later smashing it, leaving only the initial paving stones behind.

    People see design because human beings are natural designers; we’re naturally creative and inventive. We also see faces in natural rock formations, in trees, on the lunar surface, and in grilled cheeses, because we are similarly naturally capable at recognizing faces. That human beings perceive something organized and designed no more makes it so than it makes the series of knotholes in a tree a face.

    Moreover, I think you’ll find that those same men in those same books would point out the various outlandish features of biology that do not seem quite so meticulously planned. Fallen arches in humans, the recurrent laryngeal nerve, etc. exist on the macroscopic scale and, at the microscopic scale, our own cells routinely malfunction in all manner of ways, causing the production of cancers, contain inactivated genes that serve no function (such as the genes to produce vitamin C) but could have belonged to an evolutionary predecessor, and have potentially useful triggers – like the ability to regenerate nerve cells – disabled because it puts a more complex nervous system at risk.

    These are all things we expect from a tinkerer; from an evolutionary process that does not create but selects what arises by random mutation.

  • rachael

    Although I see the points being made and the topic of “suicide” or someone ending their own life legally or not has been a touchy subject. This article actually makes me mad. You cannot compare 9/11 to this woman’s fate. She didn’t choose to get sick yes, but she had time to prepare and to say her goodbyes. The people of 9/11 did not. They didn’t have a choice in how they were going to die that day and to compare it to something like this makes me angry. Someone please slap the author of this article. I really don’t think this young woman would want to be compared to the falling victims of 9/11. I see the point being made and I think everyone has a choice but 9/11 was a completely different matter and a horrible tragedy. To compare is just wrong. Period.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Well, I’d say that as soon as Big Pharm and other vested interests make such things effective, available and not being pure hell in and of themselves, there will be fewer Ms. Maynards, and isn’t that what everyone here of goodwill can agree about? Such treatments were not available to Ms. Maynard, obviously, as, contrary to the perception of some, I seriously doubt this was a decision she made lightly, and on a whim.

  • Blake Kirk

    “It seems disingenuous to force someone to choose between two
    ways of dying and then turn on them in judgment for picking the least
    painful of the two options.”

    Thank you for having expressed this idea in this form. It perfectly captures my feelings in the matter.

  • Veritacity

    Axel, this is fun. Thank you so much for your thoughts and interaction. I would point out that the ‘poor design’ in nature is actually a red herring charge which actually concedes the point it tries to dismiss. Even if we were to grant that there is some poor design in nature, poor design is still design. My 2000 Ford Explorer has a significant design flaw associated with its AT – yet it was still designed. The case remains: actual design or appearance of design.

  • ADG

    Title: “Brittany Maynard didn’t not commit Suicide…”
    (Webster’s II: suicide 1. An act or instance of intentionally killing oneself).
    No matter what your moral opinion or judgement on her act may be, it very much was suicide.
    Is this an instance of “newspeak”? (def. ambiguous or contradictory language used as propaganda).

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    so?

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    no it isn’t.

  • Agni Ashwin

    Baptopentocepiscatholic

  • Lena Marie Brown

    I believe that taking your own life willingly, instead of fighting to the end is taking the control from God. He does not wish for us to take matters into our own hands, because we can not see the future, nor the bigger picture, to a degree. For all we know, he could have saved her and she could have had more kids. Now because she took her life, many lives will not exist, not be touched, not be changed, amongst other things. Now, I have the utmost sympathy for Brittany. It absolutely breaks my heart that she had this awful disease that pushed her to this point of breakage. I wish I could have been there to hold her hand, to be there for her, to show her how much I cared that she was suffering. I feel that it is not our jobs as Christians to condemn, but instead to show people the love and clear truth Jesus shows us everyday.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i think ppl who lack empathy have little or no humanity.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    if our hearts condemn us god is greater than our hearts and knows all things.

  • axelbeingcivil

    That doesn’t really follow, I don’t think; if someone’s claim that Nature is so complex and perfectly put together that it must be design, then surely an indicator that it is, while certainly complex, assembled imperfectly is an argument against it.

    This is besides the point that design is also something imposed by the viewer. The assumption “Complexity requires a designer” requires demonstration. If animals are the product of evolutionary development, as the physical evidence suggests, this is very clearly a strong evidence against the notion that complexity requires design.

  • sdsures

    Steve – have you seen any documentaries about Mother Teresa’s “hospices”? One such documentary is “Hell’s Angel”, hosted by the late, great Christopher Hitchens. Link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJG-lgmPvYA

    Teresa was supposed to be a very holy woman, dedicated to “helping the dying and ease their suffering”. But her hospices were little better than concentration camps. I say this not to make a Godwin, but to show what one volunteer felt when entering one of the hospices (who appears in the above documentary). Therefore, it’s not a Godwin at all. Dirty, dank, unhygienic and overcrowded, pain meds were denied to patients, and clean needles were not used.

    Teresa tortured the terminally ill, believing their suffering would bring them closer to God. But instead of relieving their pain, Teresa’s actions made countless people suffer horribly and needlessly before they died.

  • axelbeingcivil

    Before I go any further, I should note that this is an argument to consequences. Whether we can hold people responsible or not doesn’t invalidate that the cosmos – and we as a subset of it – appear to be entirely deterministic.

    That being said, though, none of this really changes the way we act, except perhaps to make us more compassionate. Even if we are purely deterministic, as I believe we are, it in no way reduces our sensation of happiness or sadness; joy or misery. Hence, we have cause to encourage some actions and reduce others. Whether someone was predestined to perform an action, the notion of decision-making does not get any less meaningful; it merely shifts how we react to it from a desire to punish to a reparative/preventative ideal.

    A person who commits a crime, for example, doing so because of their upbringing still committed the crime. They’re still the one that did it and might do so again. What changes is that we must treat criminality the same way we’d treat a mental illness: By trying to treat its cause and prevent its recurrence in future. Indeed, it should teach us to feel sympathy for those who do bad things because, were we them, we’d do the exact same thing. We should want to help them, not hurt them. We should also come to accept that the correct stimuli and environment can reduce criminality in future, which, I believe, most people already accept.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    Reading your comment just now helps me understand an aspect of brittany’s legacy to us.
    I think I am hearing who does have the love of god and a heart of compassion thru the lens of this specific situation. Words exhonorate and words condemn. I see this more
    clearly now.

  • Lark62

    And I expect you’ve checked with her doctors and reviewed her medical files. You clearly know everything there is to know about her condition and prognosis. Clearly there is no way Brittany and her husband and her doctors could have made the right decision without your advice and direction. Can’t imagine why you weren’t consulted.

  • sdsures

    Spoken as only someone who has never suffered excruciating, intractable pain would speak.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i think ‘comfortable’ is not a ‘one size fits all’ proposition in the case of facing painful termanal death.

  • 243546

    Ad hominem. I’ve never experienced the horror of having a loved one brutally murdered. Does that mean I’m not allowed to have an opinion on the issue? According to your logic, I can’t.

  • Jeff Preuss

    Upper right of the page, pic of Ben, click the link to read more about him.

  • sdsures

    My maternal grandmother died of breast cancer in 1999, and she chose to be in palliative care in a hospital, after having done a course of radiation. Over the course of three months or so (after she had told us of the diagnosis; in reality she had had it for much longer until it had become untreatable), she was made as comfortable as possible, and the doctors and nurses in the Palliative Care Unit seemed to care genuinely for her. Grandma was comfortable, in good spirits, and mostly pain free until she died, and I will always be grateful that palliative care exists. I think she really had a crush on one of the male nurses – he was about 6′ 6″, and he’d lift her as if she weighed nothing. He also sported a blond ponytail. :)

    To deny another human being the right to decide what happens to them as they face death is not the right of any other person, nor can another person force their beliefs on anyone else.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    lots of ppl are making this point over and over. i think it’s not important as the discussion itself. ppl are processing thru this portal of opportunity to pow wow.

  • sdsures

    The bible is irrelevant to non-Christians.

  • sdsures

    If God cannot heal pain, then he is not all powerful, therefore he isn’t God.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i think maybe brit made her decision w/ the help of the holy spirit. In her case I think it’s ironic that the spirit gives life and the law kills.

  • sdsures

    That type of logic makes my ears and eyes bleed.

  • sdsures

    So, just because I live with excruciating chronic, intractable pain, my mission in life is to inspire others?

    Have you heard of “inspiration porn”? Here’s a TED Talk by Stella Young on the subject. http://www.ted.com/talks/stella_young_i_m_not_your_inspiration_thank_you_very_much?language=en

    Now I’m going to sit on the loo. Be inspired by it!

  • If, as you suggest, humanity is kinder and more compassionate than God, then that taking away of God’s control is the only moral choice– just as taking the children away from a sexually abusive parent is the only moral thing to do, instead of letting the parent continue to abuse their child.

    However, I disagree with the very premise of your argument– that God is cruel and uncaring about the suffering of humans. God, of whom was said “there is no power in all of creation that can keep you from God’s love”, cannot be the God you describe.

  • Either way they had their fate forced upon them, and they could only choose between death, or painful death. You are cruel to suggest that painful death was the only moral option.

  • 243546

    Your snark and appeal to emotion contributes absolutely no value to the conversation.

    “Doctors prescribed full brain radiation,” she wrote in the op-ed. “I read about the side effects: The hair on my scalp would have been singed off. My scalp would be left covered with first-degree burns. My quality of life, as I knew it, would be gone.”

    I don’t need to check with her doctors, or review her medical files. Her own words support my position.

    She also looked into hospice care. However, there were no guarantees she wouldn’t suffer — she could lose her ability to speak or use her own body. And, because she is so young, she could physically hold on for a long time.

    “After months of research, my family and I reached a heartbreaking conclusion,” she wrote. “There is no treatment that would save my life, and the recommended treatments would have destroyed the time I had left.”

    Those are her words. She chose to end her life because she didn’t want to deal with the potential side effects of the treatment options available.

  • stardreamer42

    Brittany Maynard had the strength to step away from pain when there was nothing else left. That’s a good role model for anyone else to watch. Her example has certainly made me stronger in my determination to take the same step if I am ever faced with the same circumstances.

  • sdsures

    Apples and oranges. You are trying to compare things that cannot be compared to each other. I was also referring to physical pain, not emotional pain (as might be experienced by someone whose loved one has been murdered). The topic related to Brittany is about physical pain.

  • sdsures

    Describe this pain you are referring to. Physical or emotional?

  • sdsures

    Oh, good grief. Do you even hear yourself?

  • sdsures

    So, the victims of abusive relationships should just allow themselves to be beaten to a pulp to make you feel good about your beliefs? Nice.

    You have no idea the toll an abusive relationship takes on the victim, or else you wouldn’t say such things.

  • sdsures

    No, that wasn’t ad hominem. Anyone can be in pain, so I wasn’t going after him as a person, but rather I was rebutting what he wrote.

  • Lark62

    She chose the path she did to spend as much time as possible living, cherishing every moment with those she loved.

    She chose not to spend those months receiving painful treatments which would not change the outcome. The potential side effects were pain and a loss of self. You make it sound like bypassing pain, seizures, stroke, paralysis and brain damage is somehow a bad thing.

    Why should she “deal with” those side effects for no increase whatsoever in the quality of time spent with those she loved? Why would you want that for her?

  • sdsures

    *hugs* Chronic pain really does suck. I have chronic pain, too.

  • How about Christ? Didn’t Jesus himself state that he could call down angels from heaven to protect him? But he didn’t. He chose how and when he would die. Prematurely.

  • sdsures

    So, basically, you don’t care about the suffering person at all, because their purpose is to edify you.

    Nice.

  • sdsures

    Bye-bye to separation of church and state in the US?

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i think that by your own Interpretation of scripture, ironically, you may have condemned yourself.

  • sdsures

    They can cause permanent brain damage if they go on for too long, and/or do not respond to medications. Status epilepticus, for instance, can be crippling if not halted.

  • sdsures

    I’m sorry about your friend.

  • sdsures

    It’s not up to you to morally evaluate her decision. In any case, do you think she honestly cared what naysayers thought? If she had, she might not have committed suicide.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    w/ respect are you asking me or telling me?

  • jlosinski .

    Dude- I love your music! “It’s Gonna Rain” is a modern masterpiece.

  • gimpi1

    Yeah, it does. The idea that my pain and potential disability is some sort of dog-and-pony show to edify people and that if I don’t accept it as “God’s Will” and put on a good show, I’m somehow doing something bad sticks in my craw. A lot… you might have noticed.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    Technically yes it was suicide. You win.

  • sdsures

    You are trying to compare apples and oranges.

    The ability to feel something when you have never experienced is called empathy. Clearly, some people o this page don’t have that.

  • sdsures

    That doesn’t mean you have the right to dictate what others should do based on your personal beliefs.

  • Stacey (the kids’ Aunt Tasty)

    That guy cares only what people do, and not about the people themselves. He is but one huge, offensively dangerous loudmouth in a world replete with People With Good Ideas for Other People’s Lives.

  • sdsures

    Could you please look up the specific verse for that one? I’m interested. Thanks.

  • LauraAnn, your snarky attitude does you a great disservice.

    And once again, it seems you are wanting to take your own specific experience and turn it into a generalised rule for everyone :(

  • Yup… or a short bio at the end of every article. Not sure how folks miss it.

  • sarandipity44

    She was not forced, there was no fire chasing her to the windows to make that decision. She had no faith, period. She didn’t even wait until the cancer actually began to debilitate her. Her doctor said it was “likely” stage 4. There are countless stories of people with the same brain tumor (one woman even had two of them) who miraculously recover. That woman is now 32 with two children. And cancer free. Doctors are not Gods. They dictate what they expect will happen. Every single life on this planet is different. And they do not hold all the answers. I know from personal experience that faith and positive thinking can work more wonders than any medication man can come up with. I’ve been told I needed breast surgery, that my son had a brain tumor, that I needed an operation, that my baby needed to be on a drug his entire childhood. No, these aren’t the same as her situation, but in every single case I said “no”. And in every single case, they were wrong.

    I don’t condemn her, I feel sympathy for her, but mostly for her family. She gave up, pure and simple. Had she been lying in bed, in pain, wasting away then her choice would have made more sense. She chose to leave them while she was still enjoying life. They had to watch her die. If she wanted to die before the cancer took over (assuming it would have eventually), then she should. But, don’t say it’s to save her family. She didn’t live without thinking of it every moment, she didn’t have a positive attitude toward life, only death. No, I don’t condemn her, but I do consider her a martyr. And that’s the wrong reason to make that decision.

  • sdsures

    I was out doing the grocery shopping one time. It was late in the day, so most of the milk containers that were left were pushed towards the backs of the shelves. I got out of my mobility scooter and knelt down on the floor to reach for one. A well-meaning lady zoomed over and started trying to help me out, all the while babbling about how strong I was to be doing this all by myself. Yeah, just trying to bring home some groceries, ma’am. Please back off, because you’re making things more difficult!

  • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

    But isn’t this whole statement based on a condemnation of Brittany?

  • gimpi1

    There are those that are actively working towards that goal. They deny that it even exists in law or history. They actively terrify me.

  • Sure! He rebuked Peter by saying it when Peter cut the ear off of one of the men who came to arrest Jesus. http://biblehub.com/matthew/26-53.htm

  • twotwirlygirlys

    I was raised to think this way in a Pentecostal church. Sent me on quite a loop when I lost my father to cancer. I had never had so much faith, hope, and prayed so fervently. I love and miss him terribly even after 6 years…I still randomly cry. However, his passing has lead me down a path of a real “great awakening” spiritually and socially. I see how manipulated I was and how those who are still there are manipulated to the point that they ache for my soul. I know they are earnest and that is what is so sad.

  • Her last bucket list item–a trip to the Grand Canyon–was very difficult for her with the pain. So, no, she wasn’t running around tossing daisies living a full and pain-free life.
    Here’s what I don’t get. You thinking you can tell how another person is feeling. Unless you are literally in her skin and in her mind, you have no authority behind your statement that she “gave up.” Zero.
    I’m glad saying “no” to medical help has worked for you. That’s great. But how do you then extrapolate your one, limited human experience to apply to all other people?

  • sdsures

    LOL

  • gimpi1

    When I’ve had major flares in the past, I’ve been able to use on-line grocery shopping and delivery. It was, you should pardon the expression, a godsend. Now, I’m doing better, and can get around a store OK. I do remember unwanted “help” and the difficulty with handling it graciously.

    My mother was wheel-chair bound. She was fearless, zipping around parking lots and charging through crosswalks. She always said no one would dare hit a lady in a wheelchair. She wasn’t hit, but she scared the heck out of many people, her family included.

  • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

    I’m not understanding what you are saying. It has been my experience that saying that someone “has no faith” is the worst possible condemnation imaginable within the mainstream Christian community (just look at the flipping out that occurs whenever anyone discusses universalism). All other sins can be forgiven, but not a lack of faith. Everything else can be given grace, kindness, and love, but not a lack of faith. A lack of faith is rewarded with Hell, eternal torment, and absolute rejection. So I’m missing something about what you mean. Could you please explain?

  • 243546

    Jesus dies prematurely? How so?

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    w/ respect are you asking me or telling me?

  • He was only 33, not sick in any way. There was not any physical reason for him to die. He chose to die. He chose to be crucified.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    yes.

  • 243546

    Then respectfully, I would say that you are proof texting, and have come to an interpretation that takes His statement out of context.

  • borntoryde

    Life is terminal. None of us escapes with our lives. If controlling the “how” and “when” of the end is best for you, then who am I to question? Who am I to judge or strike you down?

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    thx 4 this!
    ‘All other sins can be forgiven, but not a lack of faith. Everything else can be be given grace, kindness, and love, but not a lack of faith. A lack of faith is rewarded with Hell, eternal torment, and absolute rejection. So I’m missing something about what you mean. Could you please explain?’

  • Krisnt

    Do you, then, find fault with those who did jump to end their lives on 9-11? Do you condemn their actions?

  • 243546

    His purpose for coming into the world was to be crucified. Jesus died in obedience to the Father, and according to the prophecies of the OT. I suppose Jesus could have avoided crucifixion, but not without violating His own commandments, therefore committing sin, and no longer capable of being sacrificed for the sins of humanity.

  • 243546

    You’re making it out to sound like it’s an either/or situation. I lost my mom last year to the exact same form of brain cancer. She experienced all of the things that Ms Maynard was afraid to face. She also was able to spend as much time as possible living, and cherishing every moment with those she loved while receiving treatment, and survived three years longer than her prognosis.

  • 243546

    Are you being deliberately obtuse? An article written by a Christian, about how fellow Christian should respond to an issue, should be debated in the context of Christianity.

  • 243546

    Then the entire point of the article, and the ensuing conversation should be irrelevant to non-Christians.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Odd, but I was going to ask the same of you. What your words indicate is that since Ben, a Christian, has written this article about Christian reaction, then the rest of us don’t have anything of value to offer the conversation.

    In short, your words have indicated that non-Christians (although it most often tends to be regarding not the “right” kind of Christians) should just shut up and sit down.

    For reference, I was a music minister for many years, as well as a Christian broadcaster and performing Christian musician. I lived for more than a decade in the midst of American Evangelical Protestant preaching and thought, complete with pastors who found it amusing to approvingly quote Rush Limbaugh in their sermons.

    I’d say, also, as I buried my beloved father after his 7 years of terminal illness, culminating in the final 2 weeks of comforting him through his raving and hysteria as the cancer cells replaced his brain gives me a horse in this race.

    No, I make no claim to being a “Bible-believing” Christian, nor have I flown any flag falsely on this blog. I subscribe to it because I enjoy Ben’s thoughts, and his thought-provoking commentary, and he seems like a great peaceful guy who lives his faith as he understands it to be. Also, he’s a fellow vet, which adds more to my respect for his being a Mennonite man of peace.

    I’ve got every right to comment on an article written by a man of faith, regardless of whether he or you happen to be wearing the same “uniform.”

  • You say you don’t condemn her, yet you repeatedly judge her throughout your comment. “She had no faith” and “didn’t have a positive attitude toward life”… all BS. You don’t know her heart, her mind or even her situation, so you might want to get off the judgement seat so God can have it back from you.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    You insist this a “Christian” conversation, when in reality, it is a human discussion concerning judgement, control and compassion. Those are not qualities specific to any individual faith path. That Ben is a Christian minister, and the majority of commenters happen to subscribe to that path in some form is truly irrelevant, as each of is were human before we chose our individual path.

  • Carol Thomas

    What?. The pain is there to make you stronger?. I can not believe I have just read that. You clearly have never witnessed or been in domestic abuse. I have with my children. Yes we finally got out. It leaves more than physical scars. The aftermath is with us forever even though we are all safe, well and happy today. 2 women die a week because of domestic abuse. That makes them stronger does it?

    I have turned all our story to the good Romans 8:28 however I am 1 of the few who comes through his the other side and broke the chains for me and mine.

    You may not mean it however that statement is trivialising domestic abuse and appallingly put

  • Carol Thomas

    I have now read down further: Women in domestic abuse have usually grown up with it in some form, with abuse, and continue the pattern, into adulthood and usually continue into relationships like it over and over.

    The man I am happily remarried to, has never emotionally or physically abused me. The 1st 2 years after we met, I would push every button at times to try and make him hit me. I did not get love without violence. I seen it in childhood so I continued the pattern.

    It took me along time to get through. My Husband was truly God given has I should never have met a stable man considering the emotional mess I was, back then.

    Abused people usually carry on in abused relationships all there lives. It’s not a choice of life. They just don’t know how to break the chains

  • 243546

    It’s got nothing to do with wearing a uniform, or personal beliefs. Ben is making an appeal to a group of people who share a defined set of beliefs and values. If Ben, yourself, or anyone else who supports that position can’t make a reasonable argument that lines up with those beliefs and principles, then what are you hoping to achieve? All that’s left is a debate about the existence of God, which I think we can both agree is not the purpose of the article.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Carol, with all due respect, and, as my lovely wife is a survivor of 21 years of domestic abuse, with a former friend of mine, yes, it’s not a funny thing at all. That said, most of the rest of us read Ben’s comment as what it was… a hyperbolic example of just how ridiculous the “suffer until you die, ’cause that’s how God wants it” judgemental attitude displayed by many against Ms. Maynard and her decision.

    Ben has shown himself to be one of extreme empathy and sensitivity, so this lets me know just how strongly he opposes the judgemental attitudes displayed with sweet anecdotes, but little understanding.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Hmmm… well, if you’re so bored as to wish to make the attempt, I’d ask you to parse through my comments to see where it is that I’ve disagreed with Ben and his attempt to understand the event in question.

    It is not Ben with whom I’ve taken issue, and certainly not his theological stand. Those with whom I take issue are those who insist that their or their pastor’s individual interpretations are the absolute Truth.

    I challenge you to find where I’ve take any issue with Ben’s standpoint in the discussion, oh numbered one.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Further, what I’ve seen in most of the discussions is less a specifically Christian-themed attempt at understanding as a very deeply human attempt. I’m not here to quote proof-texts in support or denial of anything, nor have I any vested interest in touting my personal interpretations of faith… I am here to learn, and to discuss. That the lens I happen to view the Absolute may be a different grind than yours makes my attempt at contribution no less valid.

  • Exactly. None of what you just said limited his free will. Jesus chose to end his life prematurely when he was fully capable of not ending his life. He was not the Father’s slave and had every right to say no if he so chose. This would not be sin. He had escaped from blood thirsty mobs before. There is no law in the Old or New Testament about not being allowed to preserve your own life.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I daresay I could give the most ardent scripture-slinger a run for her/his money, were I to have any sort of interest in doing such a thing, and my Biblical knowledge, while not voluminous, is at least equal to those who actively practice the Christian faith. My conclusions are what differ, and those, a lot less than anyone not a “true-believer” Evangelical might think.

  • SB

    Our judgement doesn’t change her story, it only changes our own.

  • Ah yes, the call to lifting your hand in violence against people who say something you disagree with. The standard Christian debate method since 381 C.E.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Ms. Maynard no more chose to contract terminal brain cancer than the 9/11 victims chose what caused them to jump. They are both horrid tragedies, and differ in their tragedy only by numbers… 3,000 to 1. But didn’t Jesus himself teach that not a sparrow falls that God doesn’t care?

    The 9/11 tragedy was huge, of course… 3000 people and the visible financial heart of the US… But is Ms. Maynards more quiet tragedy any less in the eyes of God? She didn’t choose her illness… she chose the least painful route the illness was to take. For all the glory stories how someone’s grandmother died in peace with everyone praying and singing hymns, there’s a reason those stand out. There are everyday heroes galore in society, but not all of us out here in the world have that strength or ability to tolerate pain. My Pop found out he didn’t, and until he went into a coma, he was subjected to his brain being eaten away on an hourly basis.

  • Ron McPherson

    I still fail to see the distinction.

  • Ron McPherson

    I’m struggling over what your point is. Are you suggesting that those who jumped did so only because they might have been ‘temporarily insane?’ If so, then the converse to that can only be that a sane person would have chosen to be burnt alive.

  • Ron McPherson

    That’s essentially my understanding of that passage as well. By the way, I continue to be amazed at the number of Christians who think that one’s soul immediately defaults to hell as a result of suicide (even if that person was a believer in Christ). I was actually taught this growing up, and the reasoning behind it was that it was somehow the unforgivable sin (which of course is not Scriptural), or that one is not around to ask for forgiveness and thus can’t be forgiven (which of course renders the cross of no effect). For those who actually believe this way, it makes me seriously wonder what they are basing salvation on.

  • Sarah McDavitt Woods

    Gosh those are some complex, meaningless sentences. Still not understanding the evidence of a creator. If intelligent design were a legitimate idea, it would be embraced and advanced by a critical mass of non-Christian scientists. While there’s always one – “that guy” really, you just don’t see any significant group of scientists outside the faith defending the role of a creator in the evolution of life. I would encourage you to attend an evolutionary biology conference to help you understand the theory of evolution more accurately.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    yes! i felt that all along. my lack of empathy means when i have judged another vulnerable person by a standard i am not actually living by i will probly be learning something new soon!

  • Veritacity

    That guy? Not sure about him, but I am encouraged by the growing list of more than 700 scientists from schools such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Dartmouth, Rutgers, Univ. of Chicago, Stanford and Cal Berkeley who are “skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.”
    Source: ‘Scientific Dissent from Darwinism’ @ http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org

  • Alice Doyle

    “Temporarily insane” was probably a bad term to use. Who could even judge what was “sane” or “insane” behavior that day? For the victims at the top of the towers, the metal skeleton of the building was literally liquifying and the building was collapsing on itself. People were looking at imminent death (not months down the road) and no chance to say goodbye to anyone or anything. Who’s to say in that moment, jumping wasn’t an attempt at survival, crazy as that may have seemed to someone on the ground. It was a chaotic, violent, terrifying and completely unanticipated situation.
    My main point though is that the author of this article should be ashamed of himself for even making this argument. It is ridiculous to draw the parallel given the enormous difference in the circumstances of the jumpers and Brittany Maynard. In my opinion, he owes an apology to all of the families of those victims. It is shameful to use any part of what was our greatest national tragedy and an enormous loss of life to support what amounts to more loss of life.
    It seems his main point though was to say that if we can’t call what the jumpers did “suicide”, we shouldn’t use that word for what Brittany Maynard did. The first thing people do when they try to push something hard to swallow on the american public is change the language. In this case–it’s not “suicide”, it’s “death with dignity”. Calling a thing something different does not change the thing. But it definitely confuses people.

  • I think it was as early as 325 when St. Nicolas slapped the first heretic. Apparently Rachel from Disqus is his great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, niece or something.

  • You’re on a Christian blog… with Christians who are typically quite thoughtful, and not idiots. You’re probably not going to get any traction from telling us that we’re stupid for believing what we do.

  • My father abusing me as a child was the REASON I wound up in an abusive relationship as an adult.

    And you’re arguing that God wanted me to endure this for a reason?

    What God do you believe in, that chooses to make innocent people suffer? Just think about that.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Well-said, Ben. It’s an illustration of the difference between my, hopefully cordial, dispute with a commenter or two… I admire your thought, and your thought-provoking commentary… That we use different emphases and terminology to say much the same thing is not the same thing as insulting your choice of faith path… It makes us different, but makes neither of us any sort of idiot.

    Again, well-said, sir.

  • “Who could even judge what was “sane” or “insane” behavior that day?”

    Who can judge what is sane or insane for a person facing a painful and debilitating death?

    “In my opinion…”

    Yes, what you have been saying here IS your opinion and that’s great. The trouble arises when you conflate your opinion with fact.

    “we shouldn’t use that word for what Brittany Maynard did”

    Again, that is your opinion and you are entitled to it. However others here are genuinely trying to engage with the idea the author presented, not just dismiss it.

    Please don’t treat us with contempt just because you have a differing opinion. When you do that, we both lose :(

  • Paul Julian Gould

    And one of her last wishes was that the subject be brought out of the shadows, and that it would start some necessary conversations. If this blog alone is any indication, I’d say it was a noble wish which is being fulfilled admirably, in most cases.

  • Veritacity

    I could honestly be missing something (as I am definitely not a scientist), but am I being too simplistic in the following: Complex computer software implies an intelligent programmer (Intelligence precedes Information). More complex (comparatively speaking) DNA implies a more intelligent Programmer (Intelligence precedes Information)? I think it reasonable to concur with Stephen Meyer that, ‘our uniform and repeated experience is that information is always the product of a mind, not blind random process.
    Also, I am not sure that Darwinian Evolution has adequately accounted for the ‘biological big bang’ known as the Cambrian Explosion. The amount of new genetic information that would need to be present to account for this sudden diversity is staggering. Darwin was hopeful that the fossil record would bear out his theory. But it would appear that the opposite has occurred.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    It is sad… of course, it’s common that many forms of parody, or hyperbole to make a point get misread constantly. I’ve seen Facebook conversations go pear-shaped after being sidetracked by all the folks that didn’t seem to get the point the rest of us did and that the commenter intended… of course that’s also Facebook, with all that implies…

    But, yes, more to your point, that they’ve seen folks advocating this position is truly sad… I’ve heard and read folks doing exactly that, and it’s no less horrifying today.

  • Chip

    Sarah, we’ll just have to fundamentally disagree with each other. If I understand some of your other comments correctly, you’re an atheist. As a Christian, I obviously come from a very different perspective and believe in a God of whom it is less accurate to say is interventionist than to say that he is regularly involved in the affairs of life in mysterious ways. I understand that the Christian testimony to this God is not persuasive to you, and the differences between the two beliefs impact the way we view issues such as physician-assisted suicide.

    You’re right that I am not an oncologist, and that I have not been a cancer patient. I was, however, a part-time caregiver for a family member with a host of ongoing serious illnesses and, in the end, lung cancer, over a two-decade-long period. I also have a late aunt who cared for her husband who contracted Parkinson’s in his forties. Over the next four decades or so, she cared for him daily even though he was an invalid and had no hope (barring a miracle) of ever improving in his condition. I never knew him when he could speak coherently or do anything independently. Yet she cared for him out of love while raising their kids and operating a business out of her home to make ends meet.

    Were my family members’ lives valuable despite being marked far more by illness than health over several decades? From a Christian perspective, yes — and the same is true of my aunt’s self-sacrifice. All of us who live only have been given existence as a gift, and from a Christian perspective, that makes Brittany Maynard’s decision a tragedy.

  • Anthony Simone

    As a Christian, this is certainly one of those times where you would say that God’s mercy is greater than the sum total of all our sins. Its also so very clear how much she suffered and suffering here on earth can purify and prepare our souls for heaven. The only unforgiveable sin is rejecting God’s mercy. The problem with suicide, in MOST cases, comes pretty close to just this. That’s why many Christian’s are so conflicted about this story. Our life is a gift given from God to uphold and preserve while we’re waiting to return home to our God. Ultimately, it’s not our place to choose when to end our life. It belongs to the one who made us, but in cases of sacrificing ourself for others or making this kind of choice like Brittany, its HARD to express any judgment or make any black or white statement. Any compassionate person should feel just that for her and her family and should hope in God’s mercy and compassion. Lets pray for her soul’s rest and peace in Heaven

  • Anthony Simone

    As a Christian, this is certainly one of those times where you would say that God’s mercy is greater than the sum total of all our sins. Its also so very clear how much she suffered and suffering here on earth can purify and prepare our souls for heaven. The only unforgiveable sin is rejecting God’s mercy. The problem with suicide, in MOST cases, comes pretty close to just this. That’s why many Christian’s are so conflicted about this story. Our life is a gift given from God to uphold and preserve while we’re waiting to return home to our God. Ultimately, it’s not our place to choose when to end our life. It belongs to the one who made us, but in cases of sacrificing ourself for others or making this kind of choice like Brittany, its HARD to express any judgment or make any black or white statement. Any compassionate person should feel just that for her and her family and should hope in God’s mercy and compassion. Lets pray for her soul’s rest and peace in Heaven

  • Victor Tesla

    wow…you need professional help. I can’t tell if you are borderline psychopathic or just extremely naive.

  • rainewaile

    Isn’t the vast majority of Christian belief centred around the understanding that we all are part of “God’s plan”? If so, those who choose to die with dignity are simply carrying out His will.

    May not be a specific biblical verse stating such, but it’s not hard to make the argument. If you’re looking for a specific verse to substantiate your closed mindedness on the issue, I would hope you’re not doing anything else in your life that goes against literal biblical teachings. You’re not a hypocrite, are you?

  • somebodyelsewithsomethingtosay

    What you’re fighting — cancer.

  • Michael

    Lark, your death is certain. I don’t know when, or how, but it is certain. So why don’t end it now? Why don’t you save yourself any possible suffering?

    But that’s not the point. I never said there was anything good in suffering. I never said God enjoys suffering. That’s what you brought in.

    What I did point out is that my brother who had the *EXACT* same type of cancer as Maynard died 3 and 1/2 years after the “life expectancy” the doctors gave him. The Doctors don’t know, and can’t know.

    I have seen doctors give patients mere hours to live and watch the patient recover and live for months. I have seen doctors say a patient will live for months and the patient lives for years. Sometimes there’s suffering, and sometimes there isn’t.

    Maynard didn’t die from cancer, she killed herself.

  • Jim Bales

    Thank you, Mr. Corey, for this post.

  • axelbeingcivil

    Oh boy…

    The Cambrian Explosion has, indeed, been adequately explained. The term “Explosion” may be a bit of a misnomer, as the Cambrian Explosion was still a period of tens of millions of years. However, the reason it seems so abrupt is that, prior to the Cambrian, almost all organisms on Earth were soft-bodied. We have fossils that predate the Cambrian – plenty of them, in fact – but they’re primarily very fine imprints from organisms so early in life’s history that they’re hard to identify, or relics from (relatively) hard-bodied organisms like sponges or stromatolites. There is, indeed, evidence for the existence of sponges predating the Cambrian Explosion (or at least protosponges) by about 1.3 billion years.

    What the Cambrian represents is something of an evolutionary arms race. What had, prior to that point, been an intensely slow and subdued (comparatively speaking) dance of very small predators and prey rapidly expanded in scale with the development of larger, predatory, free-living organisms. This produced intense selective pressure for many things, but the reason we have this sudden explosion of fossil diversity in the Cambrian is because this is when hard-shelled mobile organisms appear on a scale visible to the naked eye with ease.

    As it stands, the amount of new “information” that would have to be present for this to emerge, though, isn’t all that much. Simple sensory features exist in many protozoa that can detect the presence of light and produce a signal, many of which exist on exceedingly distinct evolutionary branches, suggesting that this is a relatively easy feature to evolve. Similarly, sponges, which, as I mentioned before, long predate these developments also produce collagen; the same substance that makes up our hair and fingernails. Chitin, meanwhile, is a polysaccharide; a sugar polymer; something very similar in structure to any sort of energy storage molecule primitive organisms might have possessed. The formation of hard shells in arthropods likely involved chitin but also some forms of protein layering, and this shows that the developments needed for the formation of hard armour isn’t exactly huge. Indeed, this suggests quite plainly that an evolutionary route is downright likely.

    DNA isn’t software. Biological systems aren’t cars or computers. They’re chemical systems that reproduce themselves and endure selection pressures based on competition for resources, predation, and a whole slew of other factors. A biological organism doesn’t need a designer, merely a sieve through which it might be forced.

    If you wanted a modern comparison, I suggest looking at evolutionary algorithm design systems. NASA recently had a fascinating conundrum involving needing to design a very small antenna for a satellite that would be protected against – and avoid interfering with – signals from the scientific equipment on the vessel. They opened up to a whole suite of design applications, but one suggestion involved using a program that would not design but rather would evolve the antenna. It would randomly design a hundred 3D models of antennae and run them through a simulation. Those which fell below a certain threshold were eliminated. Those which did well enough were allowed to “reproduce”, with random mutations included in the offspring. These were then tested and the process repeated.

    The outcome was an undeniably useful antenna design, better than any other applicant, but without any actual designer. Certainly, one could say that a designer created the setup by which the program functioned, but no-one designed the antenna: All that was required was that each successive generation had greater fitness (ability to reproduce) than the one before it).

    Biological systems aren’t all that different. They reproduce themselves, and their offspring can bear mutations, many of which will be deleterious, some of which will be useful, but most of which will be neutral. The offspring that inherit the most useful genes will most likely go on to produce the most offspring in the subsequent generation, and so on.

    That is how you can have complex systems without a designer: Reproduction, selection, and destruction, in an unending cycle of change.

  • LauraAnn Johnston

    It is suicide to take a lethal dose of drugs voluntarily.

  • As an aside, does anyone still find it curious that the images from the WTC attacks have been sanitized to the point where someone could argue US are more obsessed with the buildings than the actual horror visited on individuals? That only particular images should be burned into peoples brains but not the ones that actually drive home what occurred?

  • LauraAnn Johnston

    I’ve studied Epilepsy (which is the Greek word for seizure) since I was diagnosed with Epilepsy at the age of 14. I do know that my experience with having seizures is the most common, 90-95% of us have the same experience. Maybe you should try researching seizures before making assumptions.

  • Chris B

    The distinction is between an *intended* vs. an *unintended* effect. That is, it is between (1) doing something which leads to a known, but *unwanted* and *unintended* effect (the Falling Man did not want to die; if he had survived the fall, or fallen into a net, he would have been glad), and (2) doing something which leads to a known, and *intended* effect. Brittany took her fatal does of drugs at the end *so that* she would die by them–if she didn’t actually die by them she would likely have been upset, because that is what she intended to happen. At one level (in general) she did not want to die, but she in fact took the pills so that she might die by them. The Falling Man did not jump out of the building so that he might die. Even if both are termed “suicides”, they are not the same type. Case (1) –the Falling Man–is indirect (unintended), while the second (2)–Brittany–is direct (intended). Make sense?

  • Joe M

    More to the point:

    “I’m sorry that you are about to be burned alive and suffocated by acrid smoke but the pain is there to make us stronger and make others who watch us endure, stronger. It’s not about you. Look past your asphyxiation and charred flesh and you see the bigger picture.”

    Fallen to their deaths or burned alive – none of those images made me feel stronger.

  • 243546

    Whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23)

    Did Jesus have free will, or the ability to say no?

    John 5:19; “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father[e] does, that the Son does likewise.”

    John 5:30, “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

    Even if we assume that Jesus did have free will, and was capable of saying no, He was born under the law (Galations 4:4). Saying no would have been rebellion against the Father, and therefor an act of sin. Disobedience to God is sin, because it represents a lack of faith. One example of this is when Adam disobeyed God, by eating the apple. It’s also why the Israelites had to wander the dessert for 40 years. Because Jesus was God in the flesh, he was incapable of committing sin, and therefore unable to defy the will of the Father

    Although, none of that may matter. Jesus predicted his death many times. He also predicted His resurrection. Jesus did die on the cross, only to claim victory over death 3 days later. Is allowing yourself to die, with the knowledge that you would be raised from the dead a few days later, considered a premature death?

  • LauraAnn, I respectfully suggest that it is you who are making assumptions (and also refusing to listen to anyone else). You originally asked, “How are seizures crippling?”, and you implied that because it was not your experience, it could not be anyone’s reality. Not only did Hannah share an example answering your question, but I have witnessed the crippling effect seizures had on my own mother in the years before she died. Happy?

  • CJ Caggiano

    I guess this conversation is worth one more effort. There is no such law or amendment as of yet which establishes one’s ‘right to die’ when and how they choose to. I am not imposing anything. If acceptance of Brittany’s decision leads to a change in the law or a legal right to die, I am simply opposed because I am not God nor believe that I nor anyone has a right to usurp His divine authority. I live today despite being pronounced dead, so I celebrate life, believe in miracles, and don’t desire the easy way out to even be an option. As for Brittany, and you can ‘go your own way’. I just want to please the One who gives me Life-a view worth considering-a belief I should be able to have w/out defense.

  • firfarmer

    The Father knows exactly how many days we have to live. No more, no less. Jesus died in the fullness of time, exactly when it was supposed to happen. It was not premature.

  • CJ Caggiano

    Christ’s laying down His life for the sin of mankind does not compare to Brittany taking an easier way out? He suffered and died FOR YOU, she simply chose to avoid her own pain.

  • David McCooey

    A saint on the basis of “curing” a woman who was actually cured by medical science, a miracle indeed, but not in any way the responsibility of such a reprehensible human being.

  • CJ Caggiano

    I can appreciate your article’s lack of judgement which is born out of compassion for the ‘doomed’ jumpers. I can even sympathize with Brittany’s terminal circumstances. Are you saying that she did not take her own life? In her own timing? by her own hand? If you are not comfortable with ‘killing the body’ or ‘murdering the soul’, or ‘suicide’, then what exactly did Brittany do? I’m pretty sure powder coating this subject of euthanasia is awfully sinful, just sayin’.

  • Alliecat04

    Yes. I think this comparison is the most intelligent take I’ve seen on the subject.

    However, there is one way in which the position of someone dying from cancer differs from that of a jumper – and, mind you, I’m specifically not critiquing Brittany’s actions, this is an observation of a theoretical, related situation which does not apply to her. And that is the development of the medical profession. Because some people do choose to burn, and to let doctors flail helplessly around with mostly useless end-of-life treatments, many types of cancer are far more survivable than they were 30 years ago. Now, as far as I’m aware no one in her case was even trying anything that hadn’t already been tried a thousand times previously, so this isn’t relevant to her case. And in any case, no one enjoys being used as a human guinea pig – that’s certainly an honor anyone should have the right to refuse. It’s just worth mentioning that there may be valid reasons to stay in that burning building, as well as valid reasons to jump. Even if your own life is not saved, perhaps something learned from your death may help someone else later. If “death with dignity” ever were to become the standard, accepted way for all people to react to a terminal diagnosis, that might pose a whole new set of problems.

  • Alliecat04

    Your statements about her health are factually incorrect. Where did you get them? Consider your source and ask why that source was untruthful to you.

    At the end of her life she was suffering dementia and increasingly constant seizures. She did not give up while she was just fine, as you have indicated.

  • Alliecat04

    It just happens that I HAVE had a loved one brutally murdered, so I can compare my opinions surrounding that situation before my experience of it and after.

    Yes, you are entitled to an opinion, however uninformed. But your uninformed opinion isn’t worth very much compared to that an an informed person. Even a person without experience can use empathy; when someone has no experience and fails at empathy, others are under no obligation to value his opinion.

    This isn’t ad hominem; it’s more similar to saying, “my esteemed opponent has clearly never read the primary work on the subject.”

  • Brandon Roberts

    I agree with you 100 % I think the people judging her are absolutely disgusting

  • Chip

    It’s not necessarily that way, Ben. Intention is the key. When you’re faced with an immediate crisis situation (e.g., a burning building), your mind can be so overcome by fear and other emotions that you might not think straight. And in such an immediate crisis, you might choose to do something you never would have chosen one minute earlier, all due to the incredible stress you’re under. You don’t expect people to behave normally or even rationally in such times.

    And then there’s the possibility that someone might think there is a better chance *of survival* from jumping out the building than facing a raging fire. In that case, a person might jump without any intention of killing himself or herself, and that is not suicide because the intention is not there. Again, don’t underestimate the power of being immediately threatened with death to cause a person not to think clearly in the stress of the moment.

    The difference with Brittany Maynard is that this is a clearly chosen decision with much forethought behind it; it really is suicide for that reason. That doesn’t mean she is to be condemned; she faced a very tough situation. But it is suicide, and physician-assisted suicide for that matter.

  • CJ Caggiano

    I suppose those who take their own life to escape unbearable emotional pain aren’t really committing suicide, and just maybe they should have a quicker more painless way out too…are you serious about such blatant denial of truth? Her suicide should receive compassion which leads us all to a clearer reality, not this mere acceptance of free will.

  • Carol Thomas

    Paul, we are at cross purposes. My responses weren’t at Ben. They were to Steve who had commented on here, further up. I should have put his name. I thought I had directly replied to him.

    The article, by Ben is well thought out and I agree with him. Hope that clears up what I was saying.

  • Jure Murko

    I agree with you Paul. What is irrelevant is “christian” conversation about a life decision of a non-christian. Many have that reflex to have judge everything around them…

  • Sharon Kelley

    “At that time the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah,
    and he went
    throughout the land of Gilead and Manasseh, including Mizpah in Gilead,
    and led an army against the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the
    LORD.
    He said, “If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the
    LORD the first thing coming out of my house to greet me when I return
    in
    triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”

    “So Jephthah led his army against the Ammonites, and
    the
    LORD gave him victory. He thoroughly defeated the Ammonites from Aroer
    to an area near Minnith – twenty towns – and as far away as
    Abel-keramim. Thus Israel subdued the Ammonites. When Jephthah returned
    home to Mizpah, his daughter – his only child – ran out to meet him,
    playing on a tambourine and dancing for joy. When he saw her, he tore
    his clothes in anguish. “My daughter!” he cried out. “My heart is
    breaking! What a tragedy that you came out to greet me. For I have made
    a vow to the LORD and cannot take it back.” And she said, “Father, you
    have made a promise to the LORD. You must do to me what you have
    promised, for the LORD has given you a great victory over your enemies,
    the Ammonites. But first let me go up and roam in the hills and weep
    with my friends for two months, because I will die a virgin.” “You may
    go,” Jephthah said. And he let her go away for two months. She and her
    friends went into the hills and wept because she would never have
    children. When she returned home, her father kept his vow, and she died
    a virgin. ” (Judges 11:29-40 NLT) Voluntarily coming to be burned to
    death is a suicide. This action was considered good and noble.

  • Michelle Bowen

    Sarah you are wrong, I live with my mother who is termianlly ill what she has is 100% worse than Cancer. Its eaten away at her abilities for 10 years now. She can’t walk on her own, she has to be fed by ground up food, she chokes alot, she has many issues that are associated with Huntington Disease. She refuses to give up, and we pray, we hope that maybe there would be a miracle who wouldn’t. But we also pray and just ask God to give us the strength. HE’s kept her alive for a reason. You can’t make a statement like you just did and not come off sounding foolish. I didn’t expect Brittany to suddenly get better, but I did believe she should not end her life that way. Its playing God. The point is I’ve seen first hand my mother’s suffering, and I would NEVER ask someone to kill her this way or to ask her to take her own life with this method. She would never want it, and we will keep fighting for her life for as long as God deems she be with us! We just got a notice btw from her DR stating it may only be 6 more months. Whatever amount of time I am blessed with having my mother near will not be marred by her disease because I will not sit there and wish her to end it sooner to spare herself and us !Its just not going to happen. I love my mother so much and if she came to me and told me she wanted tdeath like this…I would tell her no, to give it time she would be ok…that she could get through this with God’s help and with us there. She’s NEVER once asked to die….she wants to see Heaven but so do I and I”m perfectly healthy. It has nothing to do with her dying fate. She would never be a coward the way Britteny was….assisted suicde is not right…its not moral…its not cool! Its not acceptable.

  • Michelle Bowen

    If you watched my mother for one moment you would know his post is right. She is stronger and will be so till the day she dies. I watched my grandfather die of this diseseas, we recently lost another family member. Dr’s say mom may only have 6 months o live. But GOD has used mom…he has shown through her how he wants us to be as Christians. he has shown us his graces and mercy and he as not let us fall as long as we keep our eyes on him and keep our faith alive !She is kind she is sweet, she is the most generous person you will ever meet, and more importantly she is NOT A QUITTER! So don’t think that just because you’ve seen one side of pain there aren’t others……I know what its like to watch my own mother decay away from what she once was, but I would NEVER want her dead sooner than when God makes it so. One day her pain will end and she will walk with God…and she will not feel the shame of sin in the form of killing herself.

  • Michelle Bowen
  • Michelle Bowen
  • Michelle Bowen

    Jesus gave his life for us, its a sacrifice not a sin not a suicide. He rose from the dead 3 days later. Do try to research a bit better before yout ry somethign so …well not well thought!

  • Michelle Bowen

    Jesus did ask God to let it pass but then said that if it was God’s will to let it be. HE submitted himself to that. Its not even close to what this girl did. He did like what no one else could do, other people in life have submitted to the fact that they will die in order to save otehrs. Are you going ot compare them to Britteny’s cowardace and then stain their memories for their families? You’re not half as clever as you think you are. Sorry.

  • Michelle Bowen

    That was Jesus’ way of telling Peter it was God’s will and thus Jesus’ will!

  • Michelle Bowen

    You’re mockery is pointless. The point is an abuse victim can chose to trust God adn push away fromt hat absusive relationship and be a stronger person. SO yes in pain you can find strength. You clearly don’t understand that.

  • Lark62

    I’m sorry for your loss. Virtual hugs.

  • rachael

    Obviously you don’t understand my comment. How am I cruel for not wanting to compare 9/11 to someone being sick and choosing to die? Lol I think it’s cruel all together that people in general were trying to say the victims of 9/11 committed suicide. I did not say anything disrespectful about this woman. I just don’t agree with the comparison. That’s not being cruel. Cruel would have been bashing her, 9/11, and religious people who think it’s wrong all together.

  • rachael

    Lol well you know I’m cruel now for saying this :)

  • Tricia D

    I believe there is a huge difference!!! The people in 9/11 had seconds to make a decision. Their deaths were FORCED by terrorists actions not because of an illness. Brittany Maynard made a choice and I respect that. Her choice was initiated by her illness she had time to think about what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it and time to say good bye to the ones she loved. The victims of 9/11 didn’t have those choices!!
    I have lost 6 family members to pancreatic cancer, another uncurable cancer. I understand the devestation and toll cancer takes on a family. None of them ever discussed taking their own life even though they suffered. They lived life the best they could and I still BELIEVE that each of them made the choice when they finally passed, just by their own will.
    I think the focus should be that Brittany made a decision and she alone is responsible for her decision and any consequences from that decision. So what you or I think really doesn’t matter.

  • john reed

    No one is casting stones. I’m just defending that you don’t put words into God’s mouth that are not there. Let God speak for Himself through the Bible, as He states we should. The crux to this whole article lay in the fact that what some people are saying here is not Scriptural, including the author’s position.
    Additionally, if you are going to credibly present a side to an issue, 1.) You cannot misrepresent a side in which you don’t even believe, and 2.) You cannot present a position held by another that is not that side’s true sentiment.
    It is a futile argument to state that you do not believe in God, then try to make statements that are false about the God in which you do not believe. Any half-witted reader recognizes this clear, and vain, attempt to bolster your false position: “I don’t believe God exists, but if He does, He wouldn’t allow this to happen like that,” or,
    “I believe in God, but ‘I think God’s perfect will for humanity has been out the window since Eden.’ ”
    Neither one of these arguments are based on what God states is His true position. This is where most religions fail and man becomes cynical and non-believing — Man is always trying to speak for God. Let God speak for Himself… Unless your the one trying make man cynical and non-believing… I know you know what I am saying… Go fool the masses elsewhere!

  • john reed

    Yes, but it is a life lived on falsehoods. If you want to live a lie, you have that right; it merely means that every decision you make in your life will be based on these falsehoods. You are, literally, living a lie. Good luck with that life, because that is all you will have… Luck! Why don’t you give yourself the benefit of the doubt, and seek out the Truth. You don’t even have to adhere to that Truth, but you most likely will. You would be a much wiser Man, or Woman, knowing It…

  • I wasn’t joking.

  • Al Belushi

    How sad.

  • 243546

    Exactly. Suicide is sin, and sin can be forgiven. But that does not make it OK to encourage another to sin, or to approve of or be accepting of a sin committed by another.

    However, that should not be read to mean that it is OK to judge or condemn a person for their sin. Christian should show the same mercy and forgiveness that Jesus displayed to the adulterous woman in the Mount of Olives (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%207:53-8:11), and carry themselves according to the principles and values that Paul laid out in Romans 12 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+12

  • Paul Julian Gould

    It does, and I thank you for the clarification. Sorry for my misperception.

  • gimpi1

    I don’t get that at all. Cancer is an individual fight. Choosing to withdraw the field, because the fight can’t be won, (and sometimes it can’t,) is not aiding and abetting the enemy, because your fight has no affect on someone else struggling against cancer. Someone striving to survive breast cancer is in no way affected by Ms. Maynard’s choice.

    It’s not a war, it’s a disease. Different realities. Different strategies. There’s no weakness in succumbing to a disease. There’s certainly no shame in dying. Everybody dies. If you view life as a war against death, if you view death as the enemy, then the one thing you know is that you will lose.

    This is why I don’t always care for metaphors. Metaphors are sometimes over applied.

  • gimpi1

    Actually, Oregon does have a “right to die” law. It was passed a few years ago, by voter initiative. That’s why Ms. Maynard moved there, that’s why she carried out her decision there. If you want to change that law, you are imposing your beliefs on the voters of Oregon and those like Ms. Maynard.

    I don’t believe in divine authority as it applies to law. We live in a secular democratic republic. We don’t make laws based on the Bible, the Koran, the Torah. We make laws to regulate behavior when strictly necessary. Actions that don’t cause profound harm to anyone but the one taking the action are not the domain of the law. If you can’t convince someone via reason, passion or rhetoric to adopt your views, you can’t compel them with force of law. Passionate Muslims can’t mandate that I cover my hair. Passionate Hindus can’t outlaw hamburgers. Passionate Catholics can’t ban condoms. Passionate Jews can’t prevent the manufacture of bacon.

    You appear to want to inshrine your views as law. Do you?

  • Concerned Citizen

    Steve, you are absolutely correct!!

    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

    And to Anonymous–Who are you to decide whether someone has “suffered great pain or watched someone near you suffer in great pain”? I have been there!! Personally!! And I would go through it all again to have the intimacy with Christ that developed during that period!! I am overjoyed we didn’t give up!

  • Sarah McDavitt Woods

    Michelle – I am sorry your mom has to go through this. My mom fought 7 years and I have also been through hellish medical treatments. I think you and your mom have every right to endure as much pain and suffering as you want in this life.

    I see no evidence it is God that is keeping her going, or anyone for that matter. Most of us have a very strong will to live. You can attribute the extension of life to God, but what evidence do you have that it’s God and not luck or fortune? The whole “God has a reason” makes me batty. Really? She’s alive and you are alive. Why isn’t that enough? Why does it have to be a God thing?

    At a certain point, people with terminal illness are prolonging death, not prolonging life. The dying process can be reasonably tolerable and it can also be hellish. I would never ask a loved one to endure more pain and suffering than they wanted so I could be with them longer. To me, that would be cowardly. It would say I am too weak to endure life without them so I am going to push them to endure whatever misery their dying brings so I can prove what a great person I am for being by their side every step of the way. It’s ego.

    Brittany’s famiy was by her side and supported her decisions to live and to die. They did not abandon her. They left the decision up to her. She chose to die when she did and they were with her, surrounding her bed as she passed on. They could have selfishly pushed her to endure more but instead compassionately chose to support her painful decision.

    It is one thing for Christians to insist on suffering to glorify God or to prove faith for adults. But as a pediatric oncologist, I saw it was the Christian parents who were most likely to push the most aggressive treatments on their terminally ill children. Rather than soberly coming to terms with the reality of their child’s life, they would put them through surgery after surgury, chemo after chemo, radiation after radiation. The children have very little quality of life and die anyway. Because cancer kills people.

    Brittany had the option of doing far more aggressive treatments but knew ultimately they would not cure her and would severely compromise her quality of life. To me, that showed courage. The courage to accept reality.

    It takes guts to face the truth. Life is not fair.

  • Michele Shoun

    Let’s consider a biblical example. King Saul was mortally wounded in battle. He requested assisted suicide, but his armorbearer refused, being greatly afraid. Hmmm. What was he afraid of? God? Violating the sanctity of human life? Touching the Lord’s anointed? The Bible doesn’t say. But moving on — Saul fell on his own sword. He hastened death lest he fall into the hands of the enemy, who would finish him off. Was that a good, noble, dignified death?

  • Veritacity

    Wow Axel, that is indeed an impressive explanation. I had no idea that the Cambrian explosion had been so adequately figured out with a complete array of transitional forms. As a non-scientist, you definitely had me lost before I finished reading the first paragraph. I do commend you for your knowledge and the diligence required to attain it. Also, as a student of worldviews and the effect one’s philosophical foundations and pre-commitments have on his/her interpretations of available evidences, I recently came across a quote from Harvard Professor of Biology (1973-1998) Richard Lewontin, PhD, and am curious of your take on it.

    “‘Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.
    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
    From: Richard Lewontin, Ph.D. ‘Billions and Billions of Demons’ The New York Review of Books, Jan. 9,1997.

    As for my take, personally I can say that from the standpoint of a student of worldviews (non-scientist/confirmed theist), such a candid admission is refreshing.

  • David

    ok, Michelle, I read the article, but that writer’s conclusions are not backed up by the scriptures cited. Suicide in not “self murder”. Murder by definition is the killing of one person by another. This article just doesn’t make your case.

  • Michele Shoun

    Can we differentiate between judging an action and judging a person? Can’t a person say, “I don’t think that’s a proper course of action”? Must we always applaud? In other words, can we never express a negative opinion? Can it be that no one is ever wrong? Must we affirm everything? Can’t we urge people away from a course of action because we see it as wrong and dangerous?

    Judging the person would be a statement such as, “She’s a rotten, no-good, stupid person.” I haven’t seen that being done, but maybe I’ve missed the comments of a few blog trolls. (And yes, that is a harsh judgment of such opinions.) The negative analysis that I’ve seen has been on the order of, “This is not something I would advise. I wouldn’t want my son or daughter or parent doing it.”

    I speak as someone who recently buried her mother and spent the last weeks of her life caring for her every physical need. That was my joy and delight. We had many precious moments together in the middle of the night when she couldn’t sleep. Are you going to judge me because I don’t think any suicide is ever right?

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Differentiating between actions and the person is obviously desirable, Michele, but is an ability few seem to have, unfortunately.

    Your time with your mother was indeed a blessing, and even without knowing you, I’m grateful you were so blessed. The thing is, and that which I disagree with is the absolute certainty of your last two words.

    What I daily ask myself, as a check on my tendency to pontificate, is “can I admit the barest possibility I may be wrong about anything or, for that matter, everything?” If I can answer that in the positive, then at least I can avoid being more presumptious than the day before. Maybe I, therefore, have another opportunity to grow and learn.

    One size doesn’t fit all. For all the glory stories about the sweetness of the time spent, those stories stand out because of their rarity.

    I recall my father’s final 2 weeks, and grieve more for him than myself at the horror he was experiencing; this wise, intelligent man was having his brain eaten away by millimeters by cancer cells, and he was aware of that… every single moment until he went into the final coma. Now, I know there are those who will rationalize it away with “well, if he loved Jesus, he wouldn’t have had to go through it,” in the same way that someone once imposed on my wife that if he just prayed and claimed his miracle, her Down Syndrome brother would just instantly be “normal.” It’s simplistic, and it denies the reality that we are each unique, and each with our different capacities for adversity. Even two people with identical forms of brain cancer will be affected differently, as different areas of the brain would be attacked… let alone everything else. The Bible is a wonderful guide for generalities… it’s when folks start trying to apply specifics to where it is silent (or if one’s required to kludge multiple passages together to make a point) that the disputes arise.

    So here is a man, not following quite the same path as you, but heading in the same direction, who is not judging you. Your words and thoughts were obviously not meant to be antagonistic, and for the major and applicable points were not of the “just suck it up and deal” attitude underlying some other commenters’ posts. No, folks here in general have been very well-behaved, and it’s not so much the actual words, but the context, and, perhaps, the insatiable need to be “right” and to “win” whatever prize it’s thought one is competing for. (an unfortunate reality on pretty much any blog on any subject)

  • Ron McPherson

    Ben,
    Getting slapped probably gets you off the hook too easily. Maybe the more appropriate punishment would be feeding you to the lions. That allows more of your flesh to be had …. haha

  • I’ve been a Christian for 44 years. I used to toe the party line, too. But then I began to use my common sense and trusted the Holy Spirit to lead me (as Jesus said he would). So my thoughts on Jesus are different from yours. Are you saying that Jesus didn’t have a choice? That he was the Father’s robot, programmed to die for us? He chose to end his life for reasons of his personal beliefs. His choice. He’s not going to fault Brittany for what she chose to do.

  • Not trying to be clever. Just answering the original question. Submission is a choice. He could’ve chosen not to submit. I know you can’t fathom that he would do so or even consider doing so, but, as you point out, he was definitely thinking about it. By the way, you are allowed to call Brittany a coward when your brain is riddled with cancer, not before. Time to put down those stones that you’re ready to throw.

  • In that case, neither was Brittany’s death. Unless she’s more powerful than God?

  • Here is the original question that I was responding to: “Can you make a biblical argument supporting the decision to end ones life prematurely?” I wasn’t comparing the deaths. I was answering this question. Jesus was young and not sick therefore, he died prematurely by his own choice and will. He would’ve lived longer had he not chosen to die. Why he did it doesn’t have any bearing on this original question.

  • And? Are you saying he couldn’t really have legions of angels to protect him?

  • crazyred32

    And why should she or anyone else be forced to endure physical pain for a few more months before terminal cancer runs its course?

  • So, in your view, Jesus didn’t have free will? In my opinion, he WAS capable of committing sin, but didn’t. That’s what makes him the Savior. If he was truly incapable of choosing to sin, then he’s no kind of real sacrifice. He’s simply a mindless puppet and the Father is pulling his strings. Jesus was sinless by choice. That’s what make him so amazing. Doing only what he saw as the Father’s will was his choice. Otherwise he can’t possibly understand what it means to be human.

  • crazyred32

    I took it to make the point that she should take action to remove herself from an abusive situation and not expect to be purified by pain.

    Much like someone suffering from a terminal disease can remove themselves from a painful end.

  • Anonymous

    How dare you? “The shame of sin in the form of killing herself”! It is not for you to judge another of God’s children. It is only the Lord’s job and your complete arrogance that you know how he would judge her is disgusting. I hope you are completely free of sin and seeing as you cast stones, you must be. Enjoy walking thinking you will be free of the shame of sin while sinning yourself.

  • I’m glad your mom is doing what she chooses to do. That’s the gift from God: free will. What Brittany chose to do in no way limits God’s power or ability to work his will in the world. He didn’t lose anything by her choice, as a matter of fact, he knew before she was born how she would die. He still rejoiced in her life. And, I promise you, no one feels shame after life.

  • Noah

    I would encourage you to reread Debra’s response about the difference between evidence and proof.

    Evidence: the vast majority of humanity has and continues to believe in some sort of god. That -is- evidence. But not proof.

    You also really have no idea how much healing there is that appears to be a direct and immediate response from God. I haven’t experienced it, but those who are pentecostal and/or have spent time in areas with poor health care sure have.

    Btw- you can’t deny the evidence and proof of God existing in my life. Or others.

    And my experience is that most scientists who are Christian are on board with evolution. Except that God was the force behind it.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    By some peoples’ standards, in order to edify others and give other people warm fuzzies that they’ve got their theology and biblical interpretation all wrapped up in a tidy package, it seems.

  • CJ Caggiano

    So you still insist on me imposing and enshrining my beliefs as law? What’s your problem with my faith? No one is as foolish as to compare a life and death decision with outlawing hair, beef, condoms or bacon! When a woman kills her fetus, you call it ‘freedom of choice’…When a person takes their own life, even if they have a legal ‘right to die’, it is still suicide! You simply can’t conveniently avoid the truth to suit your argument. Label me whatever you want, but legalizing murder or suicide does not make it right or okay for anyone regardless of opinion or faith!

  • I’m amazed at Christians who attack this woman. This woman they know nothing about and have no idea what she was going through. That they can’t see how Jesus stands between her and them and saying “He who is without sin throw the first stone,” is mind-blowing to me. It’s as if they don’t even think this passage applies to them. They MUST be the morality police, rather than exampling their beliefs in their own lives and letting that be their witness.
    If you believe that you should not end your life despite physical agony and progressive dementia, THEN DON’T. That’s where your right on the subject ends.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Yes, that was as cranky as it seemed. It appears there are some on this thread for whom it seems it’s more important to have a set of all-applicable proof-texts for the “rightness” of their theology than to see each human as unique, each with her/his own capabilities, tolerances and issues. Some of the folks here have somehow found it easier to track off into “angels on the head of a pin” discussions, when the reality is this was a young woman who did’t ask for her disease, and certainly had no responsibility to a “bible believing Evangelical” to endure the horrific pain and suffering she was just beginning to feel. My mother would not agree with her choice, and as my mother has made it clear that her wishes are not to “pull the plug.” She’s almost 95 and now suffering severe dementia, but she made her wishes very clear to me, and my duty, in that event, is to abide by her wishes. My father had no such living will or a DNR, and as such, he went through what he went through.

    My wishes have been made clear-eyed and lucidly that if there’s no hope, let’s do what we have to do to make it not hurt when I can’t stand it. I trust they will be respected as well. But I’ve no right at all to apply that to anyone else who is not in my life, and I certainly don’t need to resort to any scripture I deem holy (and, yes, there are some, but for another discussion…) to prove my case to people who don’t know me and likely never will.

  • gimpi1

    I have no problem with your faith; I have a problem with your demanding that I live by your beliefs, rather than my own. I assure you, other people take their beliefs as seriously as you do yours.

    Assisted suicide is legal in Oregon. You can regard it as wrong, but you have no right to demand that others follow your beliefs. If you don’t want to do that, fine. If you do, you are proclaiming your beliefs as superior to, and trumping other people’s. You don’t have that right.

    We’re talking in circles, here.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Precisely. It’s the point that there are seemingly many who consider that as such are their wishes, then they must apply that to everyone else… that they have been taught to interpret the Bible in the way they do, that the interpretation is invariably and infallibly correct. (actually, that goes for a host of other issues as well).

    “It just is, you’re wrong, and I’m right” may be a comfort to some who don’t seem to be able to separate childlike faith from childish argument and bickering, but it seems to me a very limiting and deeply troubling lens through which to observe the world.

  • CJ Caggiano

    I am talking in a straight line, it is you who are chasing your cat-tail. Simply state your truth, “I gimpi1, am in support of legalized (even assisted) suicide!” I can say your belief better than you, only I won’t accuse you or condemn you for having it. Just because I am absolutely convinced of being honest and ethically correct does not infringe upon your right to your own belief. You have the freedom and God-given right to choose to support suicide, and accuse Christians any time you want to. God Bless you gimpi1.

  • CJ Caggiano

    No one is forcing anyone, Brittany got her way. I was blessed with a miracle on my deathbed one hour after being given my last rites while rapidly dying from an unknown cause. I guess I am just glad that neither me nor my family or the medical field had to consider the option of ‘putting me down’

  • 243546

    “In my opinion, he WAS capable of committing sin, but didn’t.”

    I respect your view on this, because it is a difficult topic to digest. The answer to whether or not Jesus was capable of committing sin is rooted in another question. Can God commit sin?

    In order to come to the conclusion you have reached, you have to separate Jesus from God. But, you can’t do that. Jesus was God in the flesh. He was both human and God at the same time. The Bible mentions this many times…

    John 14:10; “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.”

    John 10:30; “I and the Father are one”

    John 1:1; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

    John 8:58; “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

    Hebrews 1;https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews+1

    If Jesus is God, and God can not sin, then how could Jesus be capable of sin?

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Speaking, of course, only for myself, it is certainly not condemning you for your personal prohibition against Ms. Maynard’s decision. My argument is against those that insist on giving their personal prohibitions the force of law. This is not the same as saying drunk driving, or murder or any crimes against other people should not be prohibited. This is regarding the ultimately most personal decision a human could make… we are each born into community, but we each die by ourselves.

    I trust you are not denying that such legislators and powerful spokespeople are attempting that very thing.

  • axelbeingcivil

    The term “transitional forms” is one I have to address, because I encounter it regularly and it’s one that deserves special attention. Thus I must state: All forms are transitional. No organism is an “end point”; every species is in a constant state of flux to become best-adapted to its environment. We will never have every animal that ever lived preserved and in a line ready for examination, which is what I so often hear asked for when people talk of transitional forms. I can’t tell through text if you were being sarcastic or not, but you’ve been exceedingly polite and friendly so far (which is really quite lovely, so thank you for that), so I will assume it wasn’t. I just feel the need to state this all the same.

    If you’re truly interested, I recommend reading more on the science behind the Cambrian Explosion. It’s a fascinating period and my teenage years were basically spent with a constant preoccupation for them because the life that lived then was alien in the extreme. Nothing like Opabinia exists today; a five-eyed, uni-tentacled creature the size of your thumbnail. Now, many years on, it still fascinates me.

    As for Lewontin, the quote you refer to, Lewontin was, amusingly enough, referring to the science of astronomy at the time. He was attacking physics, not biology, for claims of things like superposition or that something like a block of cheese is composed not of distinct “cheese-ness” but of invisible, innumerable particles which, by themselves, have no odour or colour or are even visible. Lewontin’s claim concludes – a bit that is excluded there – that someone who accepts a supernatural claim, be it God or “cheese-ness”, can accept any supernatural claim. Here, by supernatural, he means unobservable and indeterminable. His conclusion, therefore, is the same as Kant’s: Someone who believes God does one thing can believe God does any thing. Science cannot be done when invoking the supernatural because anything you see could have the explanation “God did it” invoked and you could never tell when it was true or not.

    My response to this position – which is more nuanced than I would say the more limited part of the quote printed above – is still a measure of disagreement. The scientific process works by making observations, generating predictions from models that explain the observations, and testing these resulting hypotheses. A model whose predictions do not match up to reality is discarded or, if possible, modified so that it might provide an explanation. If it cannot be modified, it is removed from consideration. Models that do provide successful predictions are kept. The more accurate predictions it makes, the closer the model is assumed to be to reality.

    In studying science, we can produce models that represent supernatural hypotheses. Indeed, in the 1800s, at the origin of what might be called the birth of science as a formal concept, many of the models used to explain the world DID invoke the supernatural. A personal favourite of mine is the notion of the elan vitae; the animating power that made living things alive and separated them from not-living things. This model was supported by the notion that only organic processes can produce certain chemicals, like urea, but this was later shown to be false by the synthetic production of urea in a lab. In time, better evidences showed that living things are composed of the same chemicals as all the things around us. With time, it became clear that we are composed of cellular automata that, while complex, are not endowed with some supernatural property. Not so far as anyone’s been able to demonstrate, at least.

    Supernatural models exist and existed, but they don’t provide claims that can be tested and hold up to scrutiny. Material models, meanwhile, provide increasingly accurate, testable models that give us a whole slew of useful predictions. Evolutionary theory, for example, predicted the development of antibiotic resistance, just as paleontological models provided the basis for predicting where a fossilized tetrapod might be found that shows signs of both living on the land and in the water, and thus Tiktaalik was discovered (during the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, in what could not be a bigger cosmic twist).

    Supernatural models and hypotheses are rare now because, to my knowledge, none of them have ever worked. Scientists default to materialism because it’s demonstrated itself regularly to be correct, just the same way they default to, say, assuming that an object released at Earth’s surface will be pulled down by gravity, without needing to rigorously retest it every time it is needed as an assumption. We don’t require an a priori adherence to material causes to test a claim, merely to state that whatever effect we study has its roots in a cause somewhere, and that, by working backwards and studying the effect, we can potentially determine the cause.

    If the supernatural interacts with our cosmos, it would leave evidence. If natural mechanisms can explain the evidence, though, then why invoke the supernatural? This isn’t saying that the supernatural doesn’t exist, but there’s no reason to invoke something if you have no evidence that it was actually involved. Meanwhile, if you have a demonstrable mechanism that was and would have acted at the time, and everything appears to be a natural result of its effects, why assume anything BUT a natural cause?

    If you see a field full of shortened grass and plenty of sheep in it grazing, one’s more likely to explain it by the presence of the sheep than a scythe-wielding ghost.

  • Michele Shoun

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Paul. I just don’t think it’s possible to say, biblically, that suicide might be okay in some situations. This is a black and white issue. You can’t be a little bit dead, unless you’re in a movie. Death is not something we can hope we get right. All we can go on is what the Bible says, most often very assertively (“Thou shalt not kill,” “It is appointed to man once to die and after this the judgment,” “the Lord kills and makes alive”).

    There’s an article in Bioethics (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bioe.12041/abstract) that argues for compromise on the issue. It’s simply not possible, though, for people like me who believe God is sovereign over life and death EXCEPT in certain situations.

    I think the Bible wants us to be more like Job and less like Saul (see my comment below). I think God wants us to wait patiently for Him (multiple psalms), seek His help in all circumstances, and rely on His grace. That may sound simplistic, but anyone who has ever been in a hopeless situation and prayed for these things knows it’s not.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Interesting… it’s also a subject that’s been hashed over for 2,000 years by many so much wiser than I.

    The question has been asked over the millenia, “If Jesus was truly God, and incapable of the possibility of sin, can we really say he was truly one of us?”

    It does say in that book that he was tempted in all points as we were, so that, to me, implies the possibility existed.

    Again, as I don’t really have a vested interest in the answer to that very thorny question, it’s for others to debate, but I nonetheless find the subject interesting.

  • katiehippie

    “There are countless stories of people with the same brain tumor (one woman even had two of them) who miraculously recover.”

    Countless? Citation please.

  • katiehippie

    We can take control from god? Is he that wimpy?

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Indeed, and well-said. Of course, as I’ve stated to others, although I’m well-taught in Biblical matters, at least in English translation, I am not one for whom it is the “sole rule and guide” of my faith, as difficult as that may be for some to understand. As such, I’m not bothered by seeking answers outside its pages, and depending upon the inner conscience to point me in the right direction. It’s among the reasons for my 1st divorce, at least as far as my fault lies. My 1st wife, who’s a nice lady, nonetheless, and the grandmother of my almost 5 grandchildren, is one whom I asked that exact question, “Could you ever admit the barest possibility you’ve got this particular faith path wrong?” The horror and vehemence of her “No!” is pretty much the most concise example of our differences. I seek wisdom and big-letter T Truth, and I’m not really all that picky as to how those get expressed.

    My main philosophy about this thing with Ms. Maynard is that whether or not I approve of her deeply, intensely personal choice is not the issue. The issue is that there are powerful interests that are determined to enshrine the denial of the most ultimate right of an individual into binding law.

    I pray I’ll not have to go through what Ms. Maynard, and certainly not my beloved late father went through. Should that unfortunate event arise, I’d like the most personal right I possess to not be restricted by law, and, as such, trusting me as an intelligent, free human being to be able to make that choice. I think I would be very much like Ms. Maynard, in that whatever I decide, it would not be made lightly, and without the in-depth input of those in my life whom I love and trust.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I’ll not deny the validity of the few here who have shared such anecdotes. I have no right to, as I don’t personally know them, and prefer to give others the benefit of the doubt, up to and until I have reason to think otherwise. (although a certain perverse part of me has to wonder if the person who actually did the dying part would see things quite the same way).

    But so many of these things seem to have the flavor of FB memes, or old-school chain letter things (yes, I’m old and remember those… shaddap). Rather like “I know a story from a friend, whose pastor told him, who read it on an internet site… etc.”

    Many times they tend to take on the appearance of some of the more… ummm… “colorful” televangelists whose “healing reports” always seem to be involving some anonymous native of some isolated village most of the viewers couldn’t find on a map if it was marked in red.

    The “one-size fits all” may work for clothing, but in real, non-idealistic, rubber-meets-the-road living, it doesn’t. We folks (all of us, not just the Bible-believers) seem to have a penchant for categorizing everything, and then insisting everything fit its assigned category. Maybe it’s part of being on the autistic spectrum that I’ve been blessed with less of that tendency, but here we are.

  • CJ Caggiano

    People shouldn’t be dying alone, especially if physical death is a celebration of transformation unto eternal life. The laws of man are no longer conforming to biblical principals. The right to life has become birth control to millions which is legalized murder. The right to die will enable mass suicide to be legal, and any hope for healing is removed. I’m sure we’ll have the right to ‘waive’ that right and death decisions will be made by your proxy be it your family, doctor, or even health care provider. I pray that you nor I befall such a fate, and even more so, that this willful chosen legal right to die at the beginning AND now at the end of life doesn’t provoke the Alpha and Omega to wrath upon the land of the free and the home of the less and less courageous! God Bless you Paul!

  • Paul Julian Gould

    We all do, Scott… every single human since the first.

  • Michele Shoun

    The thing is, those who advocate what Brittany did make others complicit in their “deeply personal choices” by the very nature of what it means to assist. I heard Brittany’s mom say she would be honored to care for her daughter to the end, but Brittany took that choice away. What choice did her mom have but to accept it?

    I get what you’re saying about certitude. Believe me, in this cultural climate it’s not easy to be against what society is propounding. I weighed responding here, but decided to use it to sharpen my thinking. You’ve helped. It’s my job as a naysayer to offer reasons and answer objections.

    I think that looking at the Bible as a whole — not proof-texting — the general tenor is toward life and away from death. I find statements such as, “as the Father has life in Himself” and am in awe. I feel a reverence for life because of it. I see Genesis 9:5 saying that God demands an accounting for every human life, and I feel a reverence for mankind. I see, in 1 Corinthians 6, that I am not my own but bought by Jesus at a high price, and I think I’d better take care.

  • Scott Summers

    That was my point. Thanks for supporting it.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Good for you, CJ. However you are not me, I am not my father, and he was not Ms. Maynard…

    Sorry, but I still want the option available to me, should the unthinkable occur, and don’t want people in authority denying me that option based upon their individual finite ideas of the Infinite. And yes, while really, I doubt many of us opining here are of much influence, there are people with the authority to enact such laws, and they do… and not a few of them got elected the other evening.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    It’s as I said earlier, while we each are born into community, the one thing we all will do, and utterly alone, is die. Nothing in life is so completely and deeply personal as its ending.

  • Scott Summers

    Agreed. It’s the ultimate road to discovery.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    There’s a lot to what you say. But I would say that those who believe they are complicit in anyone else’s deeply private and personal decisions are only so because they believe themselves to be. They make the choice to consider themselves complicit.

    And regarding certitude, I don’t tend to have much of a need for that, or rather it consists of an extremely short list of items. (actually really only one, that there is a personal God, a Supreme Absolute who knows me and loves me anyway. Absolutely everything else is commentary) I, again, am not what most here would put under the category as “Christian,” but then, I really don’t have to be. I’ve not fit a lot of categories and boxes all my life, so why start now?

    Yes, life is precious, and, to a Christian, redeemed and bought by the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I am not a “Bible-believing” (as the term is used) man, and my conviction is that I never needed “redeeming” or being “bought,” as I was already there, and as the Absolute is the owner of everything, He has no need of buying anything I have to sell.

    The witness of my own conscience, and the still-small voice are what have my trust, and I’ve not been failed yet.

    Just saying that, although some here have been more adamant about their stance about things, quotations of translations of millenia-old Greek and Hebrew concepts really, to me, are a side issue.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    The next step in the grand adventure, I believe… Just the part of the adventure folks have been trying for millennia to describe without having seen, and explain without having understood. Me? I’m just along for the ride, and it’s been a hoot so far… {*smile*}

  • What a difficult decision to make. I’ve been in a place where I have prayed for death because of illness – still going through the same trial but not so bad, so I can relate to how horrible it is to live with an illness that is ‘incurable’.

    I have to weigh up two sides of this story – was there still hope? We make a choice based on how much hope we have, and maybe she felt like there was very little hope for her – only God knows whether that was true or not.But NTL it reminds me of those crazy questions kids would ask each other “which would you prefer to be burned alive or drown?” Aaaargh… neither, both seem terribly horrific in their own way. The thought of drowning freaks me out so if I was forced to choose, yes I would make the choice of fire.

    But if I had hope that I could live, neither. So it all boils down to hope I think, without hope we make the best choice we can for ourselves.

  • Scott Summers

    To paraphrase Emerson, “Life…and death…is a journey, not a destination.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Nice! Well-said, and pretty much my observation… just nowhere near as concisely and poetically said, of course… would never presume to be anything like Emerson or any other wise person.

    But, then again, it’s one of the main reasons I don’t “tweet.” I can’t seem to make a point in 140 words, and ya want me to try doing it in 140 characters, fercryinoutloud?! {*chuckle*}

  • Scott Summers

    I hear you. I’ve always been able to do with words what Jesus did with two fish and a loaf of bread….I’ve probably been at the same support group meetings you have. lol

  • 243546

    I equate it to trying to explain to a toddler how the internal combustion engine works. Would it be nice if their minds were capable of processing how when fuel and air are mixed, compressed, and ignited by a spark, chemical energy is converted into mechanical energy? Or, is understanding that the car has an engine, and the engine turns the wheels good enough?

  • 243546

    Based on what I have read, Jesus’s humanity allowed him to be tempted by sin. His Godliness prevented him from acting upon that temptation.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Yes, and while that’s a concept that’s also been around for 2,000 years, it’s not an explanation, but rather an attempt at an observation. Understand, I’m not arguing the point either way, as I’m also wise enough to say that the longer I live and the more I learn, the more I realize how little I actually know.

    It’s an interesting subject for me, and one that makes me think, but I’ll not argue the case either way, friend.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    If I somehow stumble on figuring this whole existence thing out in a way that will convince everyone with incontrovertible proof, I’ll be sure and let you know, and I trust you’ll do the same. {*smile*}

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Yet, apparently you care very much, or you wouldn’t have taken the time to put together a rather elaborate post to say how little you care… And, for that matter to insult people, regardless of their faith path.

  • Stevie D

    QUOTE:
    Are you going ot compare them to Britteny’s cowardace and then stain their memories for their families?

    …and this is christian love? …be ashamed Michelle Bowen!

  • Ron McPherson

    Lark62,
    I know you’re not a believer in Christ (though I am), but I think you make a valid point when you say, “Why do some so worship a legalistic view of life that they have no mercy?” I believe your observation is actually affirmed by Jesus Himself. To the religious legalists, He stated, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13). Sadly, much of organized religion performed in the name of Christ offers up a poor reflection of the One many of us claim to worship. To be honest, I’m not guiltless either and for that I am ashamed.
    Peace

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Strikes me as someone that’s read entirely too much Mark Driscoll and nowhere near enough Tozer…

    Yeesh… I get having a passionate robust faith, but it appears someone is mistaking current behavior for that… wow…

  • Erin

    I do not think comparing this to 9/11 is a great example. The people who jumped during 9/11, as you said, chose “How ” they were going to die, but the difference here is that they did not have a choice as to “When” they were going to die. Brittany had a choice as to “When.” It saddens me knowing she could have had more time with her loved ones, and to say “I Love You” SO many more times. She took away the moments they “all” could have had. When she took that pill, she did it fully conscious, fully aware, fully competent. Yes, she may have had a hard road ahead of her, but she wasn’t completely there yet. To wake up coherent and fully aware of life around you does not seem like the “ideal” time to call it quits. She had more time and it is just incredibly sad to know she rid her family and friends of the moments they could have still had together. In the end, we are all going to die, that is inevitable. The only time I would end up calling it quits would be when I am lying on my death bed and I know there is no possibility of leaving. I could not fathom lying in bed fully aware of everything going on, seeing my husband and family and friends and willingly taking a pill right then, right there knowing I would be depriving them of my time with them, in an effort to end my life sooner so that I did not have to endure any pain in the end. She not only chose “how” she was going to die, she also chose “when.” I’m happy she will no longer suffer, but I am so sad that she chose to end it when she did.

  • 5909

    God does not demand anyone to do anything. He gives us free will. God is loving, not demanding. on the other hand, satan DEMANDS people…pushes them to do things…

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I’ll gently ask you the same question I ask of myself, and that I have of others. You seem to have a seriously unshakeable passion and certitude, so…

    Is there even the barest possibility you might be wrong about some things, or even everything?

    If that question threatens you, take some time to think about why.

    This is not an atheist who asks this of you, nor a person with any dark purposes.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    It was your vehemence that prompts my question.

  • Doris Windham McDaniel

    He died for all our sins let’s sit down and really read our bibles- I challenge everyone to-then lets have this “discussion” again.

  • Ron McPherson

    Thanks for the clarification. However, I think it’s a technicality. The premise of the article is that the young lady felt death was an inevitable consequence. Both the 9-11 victims and Brittany would have chosen life if given the option. Right or wrong, the young lady felt that the option did not exist for her.

  • 5909

    Dignity-the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.

    Dying with Dignity is not choosing to end your life when you still have much life left in you. Dying with dignity is fighting til the very end and facing the mountains that are placed before you. How is Britney Maynard labeled as courageous and brave just because she chose when to die because of her sickness? Does that mean everyone that commits suicide is brave and courageous? I think those that have terminal cancer and choose to fight to the very end, “die with dignity.” They are the ones to honor and respect because even though they knew what lied before them, they chose to fight and battle their cancer and the effects of it. They are the ones that chose to live through their pain, to endure the sickness…to be as strong as they could be. Those are the ones that have died with dignity.

  • 5909

    I never said i knew everything and the question does not threaten me…why would your question be a threat to me? has God pushed you to do something that could harm you? Has he demanded you to do something that you didnt want to do that had bad consequences?

  • Doris Windham McDaniel

    Why not read it??? May learn some things or question things we that we may need to instead of giving our own story. Smart people are always open to all sides and love getting as much knowledge as possible

  • 5909

    yes, yes her death was premature. she had more life in her, she just didnt want to face her sickness. she did not die in the fullness of her time, exactly when it was supposed to happen. if thats the case, the CANCER would have killed her, not the pill.

  • 5909

    its not hate either. its truth. she chose to end her life to not endure what lied ahead of her.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    No, as what wisdom I’ve hopefully gained over the years informs me that if I’ve been “pushed” by anything at all, then that was not God or of God.

    I asked you as you appear to be one of the folks here who are so deeply invested in a specific interpretation of “Truth” that there’s not much room for discussion… It appears you would talk at, rather than discuss, and I just thought that would be a good gauge. You’ve answered my question much more than you realize.

  • Ceridwen

    I myself have been very upset about people defending those that are using the “death with dignity” banner. That whole slogan makes a joke out of the people that fight to the death or decide to stop chemo treatments with their cancer. To many young people that have no idea of what they are saying are posting things like “death with dignity not death with ignorance” or something very similar. The people that choose to fight until they die or choose to stop treatment, and try to not be as sick from chemo during their final days are very courageous and very brave. PLEASE stop trashing those that do not choose to take ‘pill route’.And yes i’m a cancer survivor.Stage4 breast cancer,my plan was to stop chemo if i were told it was no use to keep taking it.

  • Ceridwen

    They also believe he will raise the dead such as Jahi Mcmath,if only they believe enough!. And if he doesn’t?..then they are just not good little Christians. smdh!.

  • 5909

    Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” All things are possible with God, indeed. but He may choose to not give miracles to ALL cancer patients because that may just be the way they are to die. we all die in different ways, no doubt but just because someone dies from cancer does not mean God could not heal them. Most medical doctors DO lack faith because they believe in science, not God. They believe science heals people, not God. and what is so wrong in glorifying God when a persons cancer is healed? also, there is nothing wrong with praying away an illness. apparently, you dont pray often, or you may find yourself praying and dont realize you are praying. what do you do when there is a problem in your life that you are worried about? do you not think God has taken care of your problem when that thing you were worried about so much all of a sudden has been taken care of?

  • Stevie D

    I hope that some of your co-believers are praying for you.

  • 5909

    not everything is as it appears to be. you specifically asked me:

    “Is there even the barest possibility you might be wrong about some things, or even everything?

    If that question threatens you, take some time to think about why.”

    and i directly answered you the best way i knew how. now how do i seem like the type of person that would talk at rather than have a discussion?

  • Ceridwen

    I’ve wondered the same thing. About her laying there and taking that pill. There’s really only one thing that could cause her or anyone to even contemplate it. Which makes me wonder about the doctor that prescribed those pills to her. She could not have been thinking properly. I’m so sorry but i can’t help but think she was NOT in her right mind. No pun intended either. I think maybe she had some problems before the brain cancer. Some mental problems. There – I said it.

  • 5909

    why so?

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Taken as a whole with the text and context of your comments to others, yes. Yes I do think you appear to be that sort of person. That you may not be aware of it is another matter, but yes, you do appear that way. You’re not alone, and you do have some good company on this very long thread.

    The attitude of the unshakeably convinced and absolutely certain carries with it the corollary that, “therefore, everyone else is either wrong, or not as right.” whether that’s apparent to the speaker or not.

  • Stevie D

    Ceridwen, I will not “trash” anyone who takes any route by their own informed choice.

    Either to fight through Chemotherapy; to refuse Chemotherapy; or to decide to request Physician Assisted Death are all difficult decisions for the individual but even more for their loved ones. All are legitimate choices. I, nor you or any religious group should make that decision on their behalf.

    I hope that you can join with me in asking those who are doing so to “PLEASE stop trashing those that DO choose to take ‘pill route’.” as well.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    What has been abundantly communicated by some on this thread, albeit in a more genteel manner by some, is that ultimately Ms. Maynard committed a horrific sin and is justifiably in hell for it. One can dance around such ideas and say that one’s words never said that exactly, but when folks make a lot of comments on a discussion thread, a fair picture of that person begins to emerge.

    What’s left unsaid, but underlies this assumption, is that since it was such a horrid sin, to protect society from burning in hell, let’s support laws to make it criminal to assist or aid in committing such sin.

    That’s the sort of logical progression from certain assumptions whether or not one likes it or is willing to admit it. And that, to me, it is what says that I hope and pray more wisdom and less judgement.

    I recognize that the so-called “great Commandment” makes it not a bug but a feature in Evangelical Christianity, but few seem to be possessing the honey, many seem to have a lock on the vinegar, and each seems to think she or he is obeying said commandment.

  • 5909

    thank you for this beautiful story, those 11 years seem as though they were filled with many memories, lessons and love. im glad you all got those years together. God bless you!

  • Stevie D

    Thanks Paul

  • 5909

    well im sorry you feel that way, maybe i just speak blunt and boldly. thats just who i am. i guess not many people like that such as you. sorry!

  • Vicky B

    I love my pets, they are my family, sort of. I would try to protect my pets as much as I could but I’m not stepping in front of a bullet to protect my dying cat, whom we recently had put down. Now my children, that’s a different story, I would lay down my life for any one of my children. So why would I let my dog ‘die with dignity’ but not my kids? Probably because I’m being selfish and I wouldn’t give up on my kids. Ever. Thinking of something happening to our dog makes me sad, we’ve had her for 10 years and I actually cry thinking about it, I can’t think about something happening to my kids for fear of throwing up. I have nightmares of catastrophes with my kids, not my pets. How could I stand by idle while someone my daughter took a lethal dose of medication?

    As for 9/11, that’s a pretty shitty comparison. Also, there is the occasional medical miracle and that’s enough for me to cling to. It’s stories like this that would make me cling to hope.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/mom-stuns-doctors-beating-deadliest-brain-cancer/story?id=18135106

  • 5909

    so the person that said britney was a coward for killing herself is a hateful person? isnt it true? she was scared to face her sickness so she decided to end it before it really began. how is that hateful and why is the fact that i agree with that person a reason for @stevie D to hope that people pray for me?

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I’d say that it was a horribly hateful thing for her to have said, and if she doesn’t mean for such words to say more about her than she intends, she should take a breath or two and a moment more to breathe and state it better. That she’s chosen not to, and that you’ve chosen to be in support says volumes about the both of you.

    If one is not able to be articulate about those things about which one is deeply invested, then perhaps one should take a bit more time to be so.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    My obvious contention about such judgements is that they are dead wrong, and I’m perfectly willing and able to say so and why… That you are not in agreement is also obvious, but I’m not the one that’s touting my individual interpretation of faith as the only course of action… that’s never been and never will be my thing.

  • 5909

    not really, its the truth, suicide is a cowardess thing, its the easy way out. i dont agree with suicide, no one ever said life would be easy or without pain. no one ever said we wouldnt suffer in any way. i just think labeling assisted suicide should not be labled death with dignity because its not.

  • Doris Windham McDaniel

    I have not heard the bottom line of this sad story-no matter what -a life was ended by some body who made the controlled choice to do this instead of letting God. It’s a sad day when we want more control than the person that died for all of our sins

  • 5909

    well thats what makes you, you and me, me!

  • Paul Julian Gould

    What’s been made abundantly clear by some, couched in gentler terms by others, is that Ms. Maynard was “weak” and should have just sucked it up and died as painfully as she was going to, so that others might be somehow edified by her example.

    Seems to be in these days of Driscoll and MRA folks that faith is supposed to be some testosterone-infused war dance… and that all whose issues are no less serious, but much less visible are just pansies that don’t deserve God’s “muscular grace.”

    Frankly, I find such disgusting, but that’s me.

  • Says you or God?

  • 5909

    apparently you feel threatened and there is no reason to. and this is not supposed to be some testosterone-infused war dance unless you feel threatened. and NO ONE deserves Gods grace or mercy yet He chooses to give us grace and mercy every waking moment.

  • Thank you for respecting my view. I respect your opinion as well. We will have to agree to disagree. We are clearly interpreting those scriptures differently. As I read the bible, God is all-powerful and has no limitations.

  • Stevie D

    What happens when your daughter gets to 29 years old and it’s her decision, not yours ?

  • Thanks for the condescension. Jesus’ beliefs and his reasons for going to the cross have no bearing on whether or not he died prematurely. He could’ve lived many more years, but he chose not to. He did it for us. That doesn’t change the fact that he made a conscious choice to die.

  • Wow. Jesus really screwed up healing all those people in pain then! What was he thinking? Didn’t he know that the Father preferred them to all suffer so he could make them a symbol for everyone else to follow? Epic fail on Jesus’ part.

  • How DARE she not allow her brain to be turned to swiss cheese by cancer.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    No, I’m not threatened at all… Glad that you chose to use my words, but no, I’m not at all… I just try to address those with whom I converse, in the way that seems to make some sense. Yes, I’m disgusted by those who hyper-masculinize matters of spirituality, and yes, I don’t have an understanding of why some choose to be rigidly sold-out believers in any ideology, but that’s not the same thing as being threatened.

    Now, if you’re asking if I find offensive the characterizations of Ms. Maynard as she’s been described by some, and about which you aver that you agree, then yep… guilty as charged. But threatened? No more than Ben is threatened by fundamentalist evangelicals by being a “former” one, as the title of his blog openly states. Offensive is not even in the same stadium as threatening.

    I’m not one of you… I’m not an Evangelical, and, I daresay, by most measures, not even what would be considered “Christian.” That I’ve made such decisions within myself for what are to me strong and valid reasons doesn’t mean I’m in any way threatened by those who disagree.

    I’m not the one stating opinions and interpretations as concrete certainty of anything, friend. That’s others’ gig around here.

  • It becomes hate when people judge Brittany, call her a coward and speak of her as if she is trash. That is when you get on the wrong side of Jesus, because you are disparaging his beloved child.

  • Doris Windham McDaniel

    It’s sad because no matter what the end result is the same-a life is gone on somebody else’s time frame and not God’s. When did we become humans that are all his children- that we think we know more about what is best for us -than our Father that sent his son to die for us because he loves us so much, doesn’t??? It just saddens me it has come to this. God bless us all

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Being blunt and plainspoken is one thing. Openly accusing Ms. Maynard as weak, and a current resident of hellfire is another. That’s not blunt, that’s being a sanctimonious jerk… not the same thing at all.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    It’s a matter of learning about one’s self that because one may strongly believe one to be correct about some things is nowhere near the same thing as being assured of the rightness of the whole package and taking that as a mandate to tell others how wrong they are.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I don’t know if you are a young person, or perhaps older than I (I’ll be 58 in Feb.). If the former, I can understand a certain amount of youthful hubris and enthusiasm. If you are an older person, it says you never really took the time to learn much about anything outside a certain box, and that to me, contrary to being threatening, is unutterably sad.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Oh, my… Without stepping a foot along the path that poor woman trod, you’re eminently qualified to say it was cowardice and that she had no dignity? On what basis, and do try not to resort to individual citations of Paul of Tarsus. What do YOU think? And why, outside of a narrow interpretation of a stock set of Bible verses or some preacher’s book, do you feel qualified to call her, or me, or anyone else who chooses a different route than you a coward?

  • I don’t think God blames anyone for ending suffering. He is compassion and love incarnate. Not to mention all powerful. His time frame cannot be affected by human beings. Just my opinion.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    If you truly and deeply understand that, then you will also understand the reaction I and others have had to your words and those of your like-minded.

  • Stevie D

    …as you feel competent to make a judgement of cowardice on this young woman and have cast not only the first but many other stones; I must assume that you are without sin.

    Otherwise what is going to happen when you stand before your creator and are yourself subject to judgement ?

  • Doris Windham McDaniel

    But are U not glad he loved U enough to do this act-that U may B forgiven of all of your sins-I find it very humbling knowing he did this and I pray you do also

  • Doris Windham McDaniel

    I never said he blamed her-U typed that word not me. He loves us all because we R his children. I wish nothing but peace and understanding of his love for U

  • Vicky B

    I won’t stand idly by. I will fight it tooth and nail and not want to accept it. Like all of on here, I hope it’s not something I have to deal with, but I hope she won’t start researching into it months before she’s in pain and living her life with an expiration date stamped on her forehead. She started thinking about this back in January. To me she gave up before she had a chance to fight.

  • Rebecca Lynne Barnes

    Brittany Maynard was just hiking the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. She was terminal. We ate all terminal. To suffer is to be human. The sooner we realize life isn’t all unicorns and glitter the better off we will be. Get ready for the death panels. These laws will be opening up floodgates. Disabled, elderly, mentally I’ll. Slippery slope and its already happening in other countries. Life is only worth living when everything is great? Financially stable. Good looks. Perfect health? Her death certificate that will read overdose of barbiturates. Her fate was not like a man jumping g out if burning building. Doctors gave her numbers. Doctors can not determine the exact time of death. Many people live past their death date and many have not only bad days but good days. They experience things that they may not have otherwise. Bring ill is humbling. It is truly sad we don’t appreciate life in all aspects.

  • Rebecca Lynne Barnes

    Another thing please why are we comparing animals to human beings. We end the suffering of others so we don’t have to watch. Its our own selishness

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Seriously? Perhaps that’s truly how you do things, and see things, and perhaps your view regarding non-human creatures is sincere, but I think that’s more than a bit disturbing.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Debra, now that you’ve had a couple of days, and now that this blog posting has marinated this long, have you seen the posts referred to? And do you understand that the exact words may not be there, but the context certainly is?

    I mean, after all, anyone who’s ever spent any time at all in the deep south knows there are countless ways to insult someone that still won’t rise to the level of pissing off the pastor, but have the desired effect, nonetheless.

  • CJ Caggiano

    The NYC coroner got it right because who knows who fell, jumped, or got pushed or blasted out the window, it’s all homicidal tragedy from the suicidal terrorists. Brittany planned, chose, and ended her life of hopeless incurable disease-caused terminal pain because she had the legal freedom to commit suicide. No one can judge her, I feel great sorrow for her, and no one can say that God doesn’t love her despite her decision. As a christian who was blessed by God with a deathbed miracle, who in this forum can tell me that out of your all-knowing intelligence, presumption, and experience, Brittany could not have been healed-completely? Who else knows that ‘the right to die’ agenda being so widely accepted in this forum won’t result in legalized mass suicide? Healing was the billboard of Christ’s ministry then, and He is still in the business of healing today, if only people would just truly believe!

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Haven’t been in any of the rooms for any reason in many years, friend, but I hear you, too!

    My issues turned out to be medical, and being a friend of Bill or any number of offshoots really wasn’t what was needed, but I’m grateful for the experiences, and for an opportunity to learn some things I might not have learned any other way. Just another example of being willing to learn from others, no matter what “team” they’re playing for.

  • CJ Caggiano

    God.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    And when he doesn’t? And when the result is the robbery of even the ability to understand what’s happening to one’s self, let alone “pray and believe?”

    Does one size fit all? My answer to that is a resounding “No,” but I seem to have been looking at the same thing from a different place to stand.

  • Veritacity

    Thank you so much for your thorough reply Axel. I have really enjoyed our discussion. No sarcasm – just humble ignorance in relation to your field of expertise. I appreciate that we can have interactions such as these without the all too common parroted personal attacks that usually accompany theist/naturalist discussions. Best to you…

  • CJ Caggiano

    God does give us life, and He created us to live it with Him. I am not a slave to my God, Whom the Son sets free is truly free indeed. I do though offer myself to Him as a living sacrifice in the example that Christ died for you and me to have life abundantly now and eternally. I show Him my love by loving people just like you and Brittany despite our sin. I don’t cast stones at anyone, but hold HIS truths to be self evident that we are all created equal in His Image! I do not condemn your lack of belief, I care deeply enough about it to take time and pray, for your redemption draweth nigh :-)

  • InDogITrust

    This is lovely. I’m glad you have so much compassion.

  • InDogITrust

    If ever you are so unfortunate as to be in Brittany Maynard’s position, you can make your own decision. And if you don’t chose the path Brittany chose, you can chose to live your last weeks suffering excruciating pain and seizures, or so drugged up with opiates you’re not conscious. I hope you are never forced to make such a decision, but if you are, you can make the choice that is best for you.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    For myself, I can understand Ben’s ambivalence, uncertainty and queasiness about the subject. That’s a good thing, to me, as it should make people queasy. It should never be an issue anyone takes lightly… but for those who insist on insulting Ms. Maynard and calling her names, I don’t think I’ll ever understand or want to understand the near-clinical Pharasaical reactions… It shouldn’t be an easy decision, as it’s not a simple and easy thing… The dying itself not so much, as we’ll all go through it, with some fearing it as they proclaim their faith as otherwise, and others who have no need to proclaim their faith, but die well and peacefully. But it’s obvious to me, as I haven’t focussed strictly on those with whom I agree and who assure me I’m right, that contrary to the publc acclamations of “where is thy sting?” so many are terrified of that sting, and cover it over with bluster and rock-ribbed true-believerism.

  • CJ Caggiano

    Pain, suffering, disease, torture,-these are all consequences of simply being apart from God. When He comes for us, these will all perish. The Creator suffers for every single person more than we can imagine. His love is so great that he withholds His Righteous Wrath until we have reached the fullness of our time to turn and believe. As for now, I think God makes us all different so that when we come together like a puzzle, we are complete. I am thankful for this time of engaging in query, for not being condemned, and for being heard even in disagreement, thank you Paul :)

  • Paul Julian Gould

    It was on her “bucket list,” and I’m glad she was able to fulfill that wish for herself. But from all accounts it was quite an ordeal nonetheless, and wasn’t as pleasant as it could have been sans cancer. Folks seem to have built up a cartoon character of this poor woman and attack that. Hope it makes them feel better… doesn’t do much for me, but such as it is, I suppose.

  • InDogITrust

    No one has any business trashing anyone regardless of what “route” they would take.
    The “dignity” in “death with dignity” is being able to decide for one’s self what one’s life should be. It is the dignity of being a rational adult, taking control of her own fate, and deciding what becomes of her, with the support of her family and friends; instead of being treated as an object with no agency, forced to suffer because someone else thinks she should.
    Brittany Maynard’s choice says nothing about what other people have done in similar situations. It only says what she chose to do.

    Best wishes for your continued well being.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I enjoy discussing things with people, and hope I have been on, if not my best, at least good behavior :)

    I definitely “hear” you, but you probably need to hear me say this again; it’s pretty much what I heard repeatedly 3 decades ago, and which for me have been asked and answered – just not in the same manner as you. That said, you and others might be very surprised to know the vast number of things we hold in common… Not this particular subject, and not in the same words, emphasis and interpretation as you, and even Ben, but the greater Truths don’t lend themselves to pat answers anyway. The teachings that are holy to me do have examples in the Bible. I also feed from the Gita, occasionally from the Qur’an, and other books of wisdom, whichever emphasis I need at any given time. I try to gain wisdom also from those things that owe nothing to a set of words and pages… It’s too grand and complex a universe to demean it by an attitude of “you must be thus and none other.” Dunno about you, but I’m nowhere wise enought to make such a claim.

  • axelbeingcivil

    I just hope I was in some way persuasive and helpful. It’s nice to have a friendly chat. Best regards, friend.

  • Erin

    I wouldn’t say she had “mental” issues, but I will say that she was obviously dealing with a lot. She, whether she would admit it or not, was clearly depressed. In one of her videos she clearly states that, due to her medication, she hated her appearance. (The medication did cause her face and body to swell which is common with certain drugs) She stated that she no longer liked people taking photos of her or being video taped. She became overly self-conscious, and I don’t blame her. I’ve dealt with depression, and I could easily see that she was dealing with that too. She wasn’t in a clear state of mind, she was unhappy, and she was dealt a difficult card by knowing she was dying. To be given a “pill” to end her life, she could only see the “easy way out.” It easily blinded her to what she “still had.” A family that loved her and, I guarantee, wished they could have spent even just a few more days with her.

  • InDogITrust

    Yes, the people who jumped chose when they would die. They chose to die some minutes earlier than they would otherwise. Who knows if the Falling Man would have soon succumbed to smoke? Or maybe his clothes would have caught fire? Maybe he would have lived a hour longer and died when the tower collapse? Maybe he would have survived the collapsing of the tower until he actually reached the bottom? Maybe he would have been buried alive in the rubble and succumbed to his injuries? Or suffocated?

    So yes, he did chose when to die, just as he chose how to die.

    Brittany was already suffering seizures and loss of control. It is unfair to assume she would have had all those golden moments that you fantacize. You don’t know the details of what caused her to make her decision when she did. You don’t know what she had already suffered that made her decide it was time.

    You seem to assume she had much time left to enjoy the love of her family. You don’t know that. What’s to say that if she hadn’t taken the pills when she did, that that night she would have tripped and hit her head or suffered a stroke, or a seizure leaving her bed ridden and unconcious until her body failed or her brain tore itself to pieces.

    She didn’t want to die, or leave any sooner than she had to. You’re out of your mind and inhumane if you think she took those pills any earlier than she had to. She didn’t do this to avoid “any pain.” She did this to avoid suffering excruciating pain and loss of bodily control while her brain self destructed and destroyed her body.

    Ask yourself, if in your last days you are suffering excruciating pain, and unable to communicate or control any of your body, and in so much pain you cannot eat or drink, and there is nothing but pain pain pain, would you accept drugs so that you won’t feel the pain? If your choice is suffering bodily torture that will end only with death or unconciousness, would you refuse the drugs?

    By your logic, you should refuse the drugs and let the suffering run its course.

    Brittany refused both those options and chose to end it before the choice was taking away from her.
    The dignity in Brittany’s death is in its being her choice, her decision to do what she did.

  • Scott Summers

    lol. I was referring to the support group meetings for those of us who are verbose…tho there is certainly nothing wrong with other support groups.

  • InDogITrust

    Do you think that the people who jumped off the Towers had mental problems?
    Brittany was facing death as certainly as they were. More certainly, since no one knew the Towers were going to fall. Maybe they could have found a place on the roof to last out the fire if the building hadn’t fallen?
    It’s real easy in hindsight, knowing that the Towers fell, to say, well, they had no choice.

    Do you know what a patient in Oregon has to go through to qualify for assisted suicide? It takes many doctors agreeing on her condition, and psychological assessment to make sure it’s not a “mental problem.”

    To suggest that she had “problems” before the brain cancer is an insult to her and everyone who’s gone through what she went through.

    If ever you’re in the same situation she was in, maybe you’ll have some understanding of why she could contemplate it.
    And then *you* can decide for yourself what *you* want to do. If you’re in Oregon, that is. If not, you’re just going to have to suffer.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    LOL… OK… Just that there are support groups for everything, and a large number of them use some variation of the Bill Wilson model… But hell, if there’s one for verbosity, no one would ever get past the Hi, I’m Paul and I’m verbose, as that would just be after the warmup breath… Each of us introducing ourselves would take 2 full days alone! {*grin*}

  • Scott Summers

    hahaha. Great point.

  • InDogITrust

    You sound like you think she killed herself because she was depressed. Perhaps she was depressed – assuming for sake of argument that she was depressed – because she knew she was about to lose everything she loved? I’m sure she wished she could have spent more days with them too, but she was reaching the point where the decision would have been taken away from her. She was having seizures and had no way of knowing how much longer she would have control.
    It sounds like she decided that she’d rather end it maybe a little “early” than wait too long be unable to make her own decision.
    I’m sure a lot of what she went through at the end was not pleasant – all the attention, especially from people condemning her, and the side affects of the drugs – but that’s not what caused her to do what she did.
    Do you know what she went through to get where she was? She didn’t learn she had cancer, get depressed and decide to kill herself. There was a long process, including getting the opinions of several medical professionals, and moving to Oregon. This was a well thought out decision and she could have changed her mind at any time.

  • Dasloco

    Is choosing how you die in the “no matter what you do your dead” game right? Id say no. Now before i get bashed here my grandfather died of lung cancer @78 he fought long with it but chose to stop fighting a month before he passed and lingered for 2 weeks in a coma. Would i rather have had him choose to take a pill the month before and end it before he went through the hell he went through? Ya would have been much cleaner and painless then what he died of. However if he had i wouldnt have had all the great conversations that we had including the night before he didnt wake up again. I wouldnt trade the last blessed moments we had before his passing for anything and honestly neither would he(his exact words) his wife passed of Alzheimer’s almost a decade later and passed looking like a ravaged hollywood zombie prop. Now again would her taking a pill and passing away before that damn disease ravaged her been easier and cleaner a “more dignified way” sure but again the time i had with her before she slipped into a empty shell (about 6 months before she passed) was priceless(anyone who has had a loved one with Alzheimer’s will vouch that they can say and get themselves into some funny things). We say words like dignity and pain free as if the will soften the blow that will come, however ending ones life on your “own terms” simply cheats your loved one precious moments that could have been shared before your passing. Honesty i pray im never struck down with a horrid diagnosis as mrs Maynard was, but if i was i would spend every waking moment i had left with my children and loved ones even knowing my demise will be horrible. Why im not going to cheat them of one moment that might make the memory that they will never forget. For me that was my final conversation with my grandfather where we talked about everything from religion,politics,love,the state of society, to the crappy pizza and movie we where eatting and watching (for the record it was dominos and casper what happens when your family decides to go out for the night and its you taking care of your terminal grandfather without a car to get something better) after i told him i loved him and id see him in a couple of days he closed his eyes and never woke up. Now im rambling and trying to type this out on a phone so i can not really look back at where im going or was going (well that and add makes staying on point almost impossible but im getting off topic again) so ill make my point

    Ending your life in the face of a horrific fate such as terminal cancer is not the same as a jumper avoiding death by fire in a high rise for one point and one point only, when you choose to end your life by taking a pill, or injection something into your blood stream you choose to die rather then fight on amd spend every last moment you can with your loved.ones. where jumping from a flaming high rise is more a reaction and hope.that you might survive rather then be burnt up. Yes i said that correctly the jumpers of 9/11 jumped to avoid the fires however some if not most simply did so because.their bodies went into fight or.flight mode and they choose flight not to die a better way (lets face it is dying by bitting cement at 100-150 mph a “better” death then burning to.death?) But in that animal nature they chose to run and hope they survive the fall(seems illogical however if you think about it it rings more true then well its burn or splat ill choose split)

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Well, Mike, it seems to me that Ms. Maynards impending nightmare that was just beginning to be intolerable was no less horrific than burning to death or any other gruesome way to check out. Obviously, it was not on as grand and mindblowing a scale, but no less horrific.

    I’ve seen and been comfort to one, my father, in end-stage brain cancer. It’s no more pretty than a burn victim or pool of tissue matter at the bottom of a fall… The deaths are different in their scale, but no less gory and horrific. What my beloved father had to go through, I wouldn’t wish on … well… anyone at absofrickinlutely all.

    I wish I would have had time to have the neat sharing experiences with my Pop, but y’know, we had enough of them over the preceding 7 years that it’s enough. His last 3 week were anything but sweet, gentle and attractive… well, gentle on the last week as he was in a deep coma, but the relatively few “praise reports” here don’t invalidate in any way that the majority of end-stage brain cancer situation are anything but “God’s best,” and those that are convinced that because their personal experience was positive, everyone else’s is supposed to be as well… Pretty much the same thing as thinking because daddy had the guts and wherewithal to do all the right things or how grandpappy was so tough he was born in the house he built with his own two hands, son has the same natural inclination and abilities. As well, as we compared earlier that any illness or disability seems to be A-OK with folks, but mental illness is just being weak?

    Also to answer someone that earlier stated there’s no such thing as mental illness as the mind is not an organ, here’s a little clue.

    I was born with either not enough or not enough functioning seratonin and norepinephrine receptors… these are not in the brain, or the “mind” but in the liver… the result is major depressive disorder. My other new colleague who courageously shared that he is bipolar has the additional chemical of dopamine that is out of balance. Also with enough of a presence on the autistic spectrum, I can speak somewhat to that as well… No one’s been able to definitively determine exactly what the physical process involved, but its causes are undeniably similar.

    Yes, given the choice, I’d much rather kiss my wife, daughters and grandkids goodnight, and drift off to a dignified sleep than subject myself to ravings, seizures, unfocussed and unreasoning terror and all the other joys an inoperable and terminal brain-cancer patient experiences. I’ll not put myself nor my loved ones through that, and damned if someone else’s interpretation of what they’re absolutely certain God wants is going to take that right from me, if I have anything to say about that.

  • Why would you even think that? Jesus has walked with me every since I accepted him into my heart as a child. He is my everything and his love overwhelms me daily. Blessings to you as well, Doris.

  • What he did on the cross completely explains his love for me with more eloquence than any words could ever convey. That’s something we have in common, though we disagree on other things. :)

  • LauraAnn Johnston

    I know that seizures do not cripple people who experience them, unless you happen to be walking across a busy intersection at the time or maybe falling into a lake, river or other body of water. Your terminology of “crippling” seizures shows that you know obsolutely nothing about seizures. The greater majority of people who have seizures have my experience. We are not crippled by seizures. We succeed in life and don’t let anything get us down. That includes ill-informed people that do more to harm us than help us during the time we are in a seizure. Try learning about a medical condition before making general assumptions about it. I’ve had 33 years and 3 days to learn about Epilepsy, seizures, anti-convulsant medication, and what activities to be avoided.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    With due respect, you seem to have latched on to only one of the symptoms of end-stage brain cancer, the seizures. The intense pain, terror, loss of self by millimeters and a host of others are equally added to the symptom of seizures. Glad, truly, that you’ve found treatment that helps, but we’re not discussing an epilepsy patient here… Her seizures were only one symptom, and not the most horrific by far.

  • Wraice

    My wife worked as a nurse caring for sick and dying people. She also
    watched her father and mother both die of cancer. Lung cancer for her
    father, brain cancer in her mother. Both of them she cared for personally until the day they died.
    Not once did she ever wish an earlier death for them. Not once did they
    ever wish an earlier death for themselves. Choosing to end your life
    prematurely is weakness. The jumpers on 9/11 had excruciating pain
    behind them shoving them out a window. Given their predicament, I’m sure
    I’d be tempted to jump too, although realistically, I think I’d prefer
    to stand in smoke and inhale til I passed out. Seem like the least
    painful way to go of all the available options, but I digress….

    This
    girl ended her life, not cancer. She still had time. “Medication” she
    chose to take took it away. There is absolutely nothing dignified about
    voluntarily taking medication to end your life, any more than it would
    be to do so by overdosing on painkillers, suffocating yourself with car
    exhaust, or shooting yourself in the head.

    Of course people are
    going to defend this girl’s choice though. We live in a culture of death
    nowadays that everyone is desensitized to it. Kill your spouse, kill
    your kids, kill unborn babies, kill each other, kill yourself. With so
    much death everywhere, it’s no wonder that some people just don’t care
    anymore. Don’t care about themselves or their fellow human beings.

  • Chris B

    Yes, death was inevitable, apparently, in both cases. I’m just arguing that there is a real distinction between *what* each of them did and *how* that action relates to *why* they did it. If consequences are all that matter, and not how what we do relates to why we do it, then it is indeed just a “technicality”. But this would amount to a form of consequentialism or a utilitarianism, and I doubt that the author would want to endorse such ethical systems–it leads to numerous and serious problems. Human intentions matter, as well as how what we do relates our intentions. Certainly this is true in our legal system (i.e., the difference between murder and manslaughter is not about consequences, but about intention). And it is true of ethics and morality also.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I’m sorry, sir, but you’ve erected a whole platoon of straw men that you’re busily trying to knock down… starting with your labeling of “weak” and including your rant about “culture of death.” There are, much to your surprise, I’m sure, very few who would subscribe to such a thing.

    Glad your experiences were as positive as possible. Few others’ are.

  • jmoney8572

    People jump from burning buildings in hopes of survival. They chose life. They died with dignity. The chances of surviving in a burning building are 0, the chances of surviving the jump are slim, but are still there. It saddens me, and hopefully the rest of the american people, that you would claim ‘they chose the way they would die’. For the loved ones of those that died this is an attack on their dignity. I hope you’ll remove this. Everyone dies, choosing how=suicide. I’m not judging Brittany, I don’t know her and it’s really not my place. My cousin took his life 6 years ago after many years of pain. Life is hard, and harder for some. Please don’t drag the victims of 9/11 through your opinion about their choice for life.

  • Stevie D

    Are you saying you would deny your daughter that choice? prevent her from going down that route if it was her informed decision?

  • Doris Windham McDaniel

    We are also sisters in Christ and Its a great honor to be able to call U that. When Jesus was asked which was most important -he replied” Love is the greatest of one all” that’s how I try to live my life with everyone-thank U for reminding me of that

  • Rachael Spainhour

    there’s nothing dignified about suicide, assisted or not.

  • Don Blankenship

    The people who jumped on 9/11 didn’t fall to their death. They took a leap of faith into the hands of God. Brittany made peace with God by choosing not to endure an excruciatingly long and slow death and by choosing not to have her family and friends suffer with her. She took her leap of faith and is now in the hands of God.

  • Valerie Bosselman

    Mr. Corey..in regards to you commentary..have you buried a daughter? You write about that to which you have no life experience. A decade ago (2004) in the shadow of my daughter’s college graduation she told me “I’m sick, Mom…” leading to her diagnosis of Adrenal Cortical Carniconoma…rare, aggressive, deadly in 4 years…one in a million diagnosis. Most doctors don’t see it in the lifetime of their practice. I was told she would never leave the hospital. She did. Went on to 18 months of glorious remission. Never looked more beautiful. I was not delusional. I knew ACC lurked in her body. When ACC resurfaced, it did with a vengeance. But she lived months beyond expectation. And in those months she spoke profoundly into the lives of those around her. She was courageous. Not afraid of pain. If she had ended her life when doctors said so, we would have been robbed of four intimate years and knowing what’s important.

    She died, in pain, on Easter Sunday 2008. I miss my girl. As a writer, don’t miss the whole truth.

    http://www.curetoday.com/publications/cure/2010/summer2010/Beginning-to-End

  • Erin

    Really? You are going to say those 9/11 jumpers chose when? Irregardless, they would not have survived another day. Brittany could have. My whole point here is that she could have had more time (even if it were only 1 more day). I’m nowhere near saying that she needed to suffer “excruciating” pain. I, myself, which I know I am NOT her, would have held on as long as I could have in order to spend as much time with my family as I could. I understand she did not want to risk being incapacitated, she based her decision on her own assumption that it would be a possibility, and perhaps it might have been (we do not know). This whole thing just saddens me. I have witnessed too many people I love being taken too soon (Cancer, accidents, murder.. etc), and I could not understand someone I love choosing this as an option. Everyone has their viewpoints, I’m not saying she is a horrible person (or at least I wasn’t trying to imply that if it came out that way) She seemed like an amazing person, and I understand that she was going through a lot (she was dying, and nothing is worse than being told you only have X amount of time to live)

    Having dealt with grief myself, more times than necessary, I just hope that her family is at peace. Having to cope with a loved one passing is never an easy thing to go through.

    Sorry for assuming, sorry for having an opinion. We all have them.

  • Vicky B

    No, as you said, she’s an adult and would be able to make that decision. I would merely beg, cry and plea with her to fight and not give up. Medical miracles DO happen and I would always, ALWAYS wonder and always think “what if” if I didn’t try to have her fight. Did you read the article I posted? Of course it’s not the norm, that’s why doctors are amazed, but she decided 10 months ago that the possibility of being one of those people is impossible. Does everyone survive just because they believe and pray? That is not at all what I said. but having hope to having a future is definitely going to be better than giving up.

  • somebodyelsewithsomethingtosay

    We’re all born under the sentence of death.

  • Valerie Bosselman

    Thank you, Laura Short, for sharing what I too am thinking.

  • somebodyelsewithsomethingtosay

    I guess my world view is simply in the “Do not go quietly into the night” bin.

  • Matthew

    This is the 777th comment:

    Good article Ben! Got me thinking once again … I really need to leave
    the tough questions that don´t have black and white answers in the hands of God.

  • InDogITrust

    Remember that the 9/11 jumpers had no way of knowing the buildings would collapse. We now know their deaths were inevitable, but they didn’t.
    Just as Brittany didn’t know when the disease eating her brain would incapacitate her. Clearly something had happened for her to say, now is the time.
    If the Falling Man was justified in assuming the worst – in a genuinely unique situation when no one knew what would happen next- then surely Brittany was justified in assuming the worst – seizures, incapacitation – given all our medical knowledge and experience with the ravages of brain cancer?

    Just as you can’t imagine wanting to do what she did, she didn’t want to go through what she knew was inevitable. The point is, *you* are the person who should make the decision about what happens to you, and Brittany made the decision about what happened to her.

    The loss of someone so young and full of potential is heartrending, but she ended it on her terms, the way she wanted. She didn’t want to go, but having that decision taken from her, she at least got to decide she’d go out on top.

    Sorry that i kinda bagged on you. We’re all bringing our own experiences to this. I can’t not think of a friend who was a remarkable woman, really astounding, who was holding her own against stage 4 ovarian cancer, responding well to cutting edge treatment, even travelling, and fell one night and hit her head and bled to death. As terrible as it was to lose her like that, we were glad for her sake that she didn’t end up a brain-damaged shell in a hospital bed, which we knew was her worst fear.

    So i think of that and i cannot blame Brittany for chosing safe over sorry, since we never know what will happen. I don’t know what i’d do in her situation, i just want it to be *my* decision, just as i want it to be *your* decision for you.

    As i’ve said, that’s where the dignity comes in: letting each person decide for themselves what is best for them.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    What it begins to seem like is that it’s less and less what is love for the sufferer and more and more about one’s own personal “ick” factor… Good! I’d be concerned about anyone who didn’t have conscience enough to worry about it… But beyond a particular point, it has nothing to do with the sufferer and everything about one’s own self-interest, no matter how it’s dressed up with flowery language and Bible verses.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Hmmm… well, outside of movies and the occasional romance novel, there’s really very seldom much dignity about dying anyway… I suspect there are orders of magnitude more last words being “Oh, sh**” than “Thank you Jesus.”

    But you know, it’s like going to the bathroom… it’s undiginified, frequently smelly and unattractive, and yet we’re all going to do it.

    Where’s the dignity in rolling throught the exit door raving, in terror as one’s brain’s eaten away, incontinence, seizures and all the other joys? And that sort of thing really doesn’t care about one’s spiritual convictions.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    A simplistic expression of faith owns more to the T in TULIP than anything related to actual faith… According to that thinking, which is the default position of American Protestant Christianity, however nicely it’s said, is that unless someone’s made a public pronouncement of a “sinner’s prayer” in whatever form, one is totally depraved, and as such, an adult is incapable of making an adult decision with the input of other adults in one’s trust.

    What you’re seeming to say here, Vicky, is that, not only would you disapprove, but you’d make it so her last thoughts are those of guilt… Is that love?

  • Ursula L

    There is no hope of survival, from 100 floors up. To interpret the choice to jump rather than burn as one of hope of survival is to ignore that fact. One may jump from the second or third floor and hope to live, but not from that high.

    They could not choose to live, they could only choose how to die. And choosing to remain in the fire would have been a choice, too. One way or another, the people trapped had to choose how to die.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Folks have been overthinking this, apparently so their preconceptions remain intact and to feel better about themselves… Both the jumpers and Ms. Maynard were faced with a nasty, brutish and short end, no matter what… Merely matter of scale between seconds and perhaps days Ms. Maynard chose between a “good night” and a horror show, the jumpers chose between a quick end and a quicker end. Neither are desirable choices, to be sure, but we play the cards we’re dealt. I’m certain that if given the choice, the jumpers would have much preferred their offices not burning down around their ears, and I doubt Ms. Maynard would have chosen brain cancer as a good career move or lifestyle choice.

  • FragOut13

    Either you didn’t read the article, or went way over your head. Try reading it again (or for the first time), and pay particular attention to the part about the 9/11 jumpers–because you just called their decision “undignified”. My guess is that most of you that apply this two-dimensional thinking to this issue have never dealt with it yourself. Your “logic” sounds great on paper, but in the real world it’s a bit more complicated than that.

  • Applestar

    A very good post, thank you.

  • Marc Anthony Marroquin

    I am in no way a believer of God, but I agree 100% with the author, see, we really all can get a long, good write.

  • sdsures

    I have, several times. I minored in religion. The bible is the most poorly-researched document I have ever encountered, and cannot be corroborated.

  • Rachael Spainhour

    nope. I read it. The cure for brain cancer could be discovered tomorrow but now she will never know. Her family will not get to enjoy her few remaining days or get in a few more hugs because she ended early. she won’t get to soak up the sun one more day because all she could see was her pain. there is something to be said of a person who finds strength in suffering. a person who sticks it out until the bitter end. But she cut her life short on a whim. Her family will now never know if she would have survived. There was still the chance she could have made it through. Wasted life. and it’s sad.

  • sdsures

    Suicide is a sin, essentially that is what Jesus did.

  • sdsures

    According to Steve, her pain was meant for others’ edification. Pure bally rot.

  • sdsures

    No one said Ms Maynard was “put down”. She chose to end her life.

  • Rachael Spainhour

    so instead of fighting…your answer is give up? so are we going to start assisting children with brain cancer in suicide? suicide is such an easy answer to everything, but what does it solve? nothing. more pain is gained from suicide than any natural death.

  • sdsures

    Thanks!

  • sdsures

    But eventually you will be legally required to accept that it is her choice, not yours.

  • sdsures

    It’s very nice and convenient for you to think these things when you personally are not the one suffering the kind of agony Brittany was in, and that she knew would only get worse.

  • Vicky B

    Yep, it is. Do you have kids? I’ll never, ever, ever give up on my kids. Ever. When they give up, I will never give up. That’s what a mother does. Is this truly the difference between a mother and father? Surely it is not because I’m sure if you have children that you’re not saying you’d give up on them. I carried her for nine months, endured pain sweat and tears to push her out into this world, continued to give her life by nursing her. No. I will never, ever, let her give up on life so easily; finding truth from reading crap on the internet, seeing and hearing the negatives of how ‘brave’ someone is to give up. Saying goodbye to a child is something to shouldn’t happen, saying goodbye when they are beyond hope is when you finally let them go. You do NOT let them go when you are still traveling to the Grand Canyon and going on helicopter rides. You do NOT let them go because she had ‘her worst seizure so far’. No, her life is too precious to me. I will cling to her and beg and cry and tell her I will hold her hand until the very end but please, please, please don’t give up because this doesn’t have to be the end. Please, don’t let this be the end. Please, find the strength. The courage. The hope. Your mother is here. Always.
    So, do I love my daughter? Don’t ask me such a ridiculous question.
    Do you love your children; the question is both absurd and insulting.

  • sdsures

    You can’t know how you would behave in such a situation until you have faced it yourself.

  • sdsures

    He’s a lucky fella, isn’t he?

  • sdsures

    “Stronger” meaning that seeing her suffering makes you feel better about yourself? Pure selfishness on your part.

  • sdsures

    Your mom sounds like she was a cool person!

    We also use online grocery delivery for bigger orders, but I do enjoy getting out of the house for little things and going for coffee. Mostly I end up getting coffee while waiting to refill my medications! But the online options is indispensable when the weather is worse and I can’t get out as often.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    She fought, Rachael. She fought until it was obvious the fight was unwinnable. And natural death? Seriously? It was medical science that kept her alive longer than the natural cours of events would have ever been!

    I saw your other comment regarding “cure could be found tomorrow.” Yes, and I might walk outside my house in 5 minutes and get smeared by a bus… But basing my life (and death) on the most unlikely events is no way to be, as far as I’m concerned.

  • FragOut13

    A cure isn’t going to be discovered tomorrow, and even if it was the chances it would make it through the bureaucracy in time for her to use it would be nil. Her family may have been robbed of a small amount of time, but they’re also saved from having to watch her deteriorate into a shell of her former self. You mentioned dignity in your original comment. I encourage you to go spend some time on your local oncology floor or ICU. I think you’ll find that death by a disease process like cancer rarely has much dignity involved. No offense, but I can tell you haven’t dealt with much death. As a former Marine who’s served in Iraq, and a current nurse, I can tell you that it’s not like what you apparently imagine it to be.

  • Vicky B

    Do I need to sign something? Seriously? I would need to sign something to say she’s able to do this? I don’t recall reading that. But truly? Because that makes no sense. Now if you’re saying I have to accept it because she’s an adult and in control of her own body, well, you’re right. I’d have to accept the fact that she ended her life regardless how she did it because whether she is 15 or 29, she has the ability to end her own. She’s just not going to get my permission.

  • Vicky B

    It is very nice and convenient that you would assume that I haven’t gone through something that is both painful and assumed to have a, shall we say, poor outcome. Do not make assumptions, it doesn’t help your argument.

  • theworldahead1

    This article was great. I was very conflicted by what I felt concerning ‘right to die’ or ‘physician assisted suicide;’ especially sense I was relieved that she no longer had to suffer, but at the same time saddened by the recent suicide of my friends son. What you said about the inevitable death that Brittany was facing, and her choosing the less painful way; makes sense to me. Instead of passing judgment on people; we need to try to come to a better understanding of why people make certain choices.

  • Doris Windham McDaniel

    But for some reason not 1 scientists can prove the Bible is wrong or that God did not exist. Something to think about

  • Doris Windham McDaniel

    God tells us of all things LOVE is the most important. I think it should be the most important thing here also -for each other and this family

  • Doris Windham McDaniel

    So U just admitted in writing U think her act was one of suicide-interesting. Thanks for sharing with a lot of people your true thoughts on her actions

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Yes, Vicky… As a matter of fact, I have 2 daughters, 3 stepdaughters, a warrior of a combat vet stepson, and between my lovely wife and myself, 15 grandchildren.

    And guess what? I love each and every one of them enough to state that the adults among them are perfectly capable of making adult decisions. I trust them enough, and, although I’d consider it both a deep honor, as well as a profound responsibility to be asked for my counsel, not living in anyone else’s pain and suffering, my counsel would be the final extent.

    As I’ve also stated, my mother made her wishes known before dementia began to rob her of herself. She has told me that she doesn’t want “the plug pulled,” so to speak, and I’ll honor her wishes with all that’s in me.

    My father never made his wishes clear, and, as such, I watched him die in pain, terror, confusion and seizures, but as the default, to me, should not be irrevocable, he went through what he did.

    Attempting to guilt someone by appeal to one’s children really doesn’t work on me, as I adore my kids.. I also trust each of them and respect that they are intelligent, unique individuals. I’ll not live nor die through them – each of us has enough within ourselves to deal with, without trying to live in someone else’s head.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Your reaction seem to show more that you are concerned more with the horror, grief and such that you would experience. Once the deed is done, they’re out of the pain.

    So to me, it’s more a matter of whether such a thing is to spare myself the negatives than whether or not the suffering individual wishes things to be so.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Well, as far as my father was a terminal brain cancer patient, I’ve experienced it at least as a helpless spectator, and as crappy an experience as it was for me, I’m positive it was orders of magnitude worse for Pop. But a prevailing attitude among some is that since their experience being around it was such a sweet gentle time of sharing, that that is the default experience, and based on their joyous sendoffs, they’d be more than happy to continue to support laws to imprison any physician so “satanic” as to offer another choice as a possible option.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Strikes this old fart that you’re nitpicking to keep yourself from considering that anyone else might just have a point… Scary I know, but an education, nonetheless…

    Apparently since one chooses to use one synonym over another… (as you’d probably use the word “murder,” that’s my exact point), that takes away anything else of value in the rest of the point. Easier to focus on a comma, a synonym or a euphemism than to actually consider what one is actually saying as one’s self…

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Death is that thing which we will all have in common. Keeping a pain-wracked person willing to make it hurt no longer, so one doesn’t have to deal with one’s own preconceptions is neither noble nor dignified, nor does it show any empathy for someone ELSE’s suffering and pain… only one’s own. Contrary to what it seems here, there really are worse things than death, for which death is the only release. Whether or not it was in a manner one finds less threatening, really doesn’t have any ultimate bearing. And for what? So you can answer God when he says, “Yep… you got the literal meaning of 1st Opinions 4:9. Now… did you love? Did you care? Was your own discomfort more important that the others’ pain?”

  • Vicky B

    Well, I suppose when I have children who are grown, maybe my views will change, but for now, these are my opinions and they aren’t going to be easily swayed. Maybe in 20 or 30 years it may change, but for now I hope that neither of us have to worry about this and this discussion has been for naught. I hope you live a very long life and your children even longer, as no parent should outlive their child.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    And on those points, you’ll never find anyone in more enthusiastic agreement. I do hope for long, but more than long, fulfilling life to all of us.

    Shalom, Vicky.

  • Rachael Spainhour

    actually i have been around death a lot and understand that it’s a journey that everyone has to take. I have witnessed a close friend die from lymphoma. death does not bother me. giving up bothers me. as a marine you should know that giving up is not an option.

  • Bobby Samsung

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion when someone takes their story public. Instead of bashing Christians (maybe the few who had other opinions) this guy should preach the gospel.

  • Bobby Samsung

    Christians are all different who all have different opinions, just like other groups. Lets not all group everyone together. Clearly this was written to bash Christians.

  • Bobby Samsung
  • Bobby Samsung
  • Rachael Spainhour

    it’s not over until it’s over. forgive me for a having a fighting spirit. suicide should not be an option, and the physician is going against the code of all physicians. a natural death occurs regardless of medical science. stopping a life is unethical. it’s murder. what separates her physician and her situation from that of dr. kevorkian and his patients

  • Yeah. The article was full of Christian-bashing, left and right. The guy who wrote it must obviously not be one. Must be a sign of the times… there will be persecution.

  • Doris Windham McDaniel

    All I can say with love is I hope God always blesses U and loves U like we should all love each other “like our neighbor” I know I’ve learned from this column that needs to be practiced a lot more than trying to impress other people with” our knowledge” thanks-a lot has become clear to me

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Madam, I contemplated how to answer this, when it occurred to me that, just as folks on “your side” of the discussion, I’d be simply repeating everything I’ve said for 4 days now. My answers are all over this thread, should you decide to read them. Unlike some, I don’t have unlimited energy, and consider it the height of wastefulness to keep beating that ol’ horse.

    So I’ll just wish you brightest blessings, and as mercifully pain-free a life as possible.

  • Evolved Primate

    No scientist can prove that Unicorns don’t exist either. Doris, can you prove that the Koran, or any other religious literature is wrong?. Just something to think about

  • Doris Windham McDaniel

    Did U actually bring up unicorns??? There are rainbows too-don’t forget those…. May god bless U in your life always

  • Paul Julian Gould

    And I wish you all the best blessings, as well. I learn constantly, and that includes from those with whom I disagree… This is because I’m not so invested in being “correct” that I lose sight of what’s true… What knowledge I’ve gained over my life is due to other people, and being willing to listen to them, even those who were so convinced they had all the answers. What experience I’ve gained, however, is mine and mine alone.

    Have a great one, Doris, and may this find you and yours well and happy.

  • Doris Windham McDaniel

    Love goes a long way in this world we live in-I’ve learned from this column is to use it more-not less

  • Doris Windham McDaniel

    Thanks Paul-I totally agree with U. Only well wishes and happiness to U also

  • Doris Windham McDaniel

    Did U actually bring up unicorns??? There are rainbows too-don’t forget those…. May god bless U in your life always

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    wow! my sister died of that. I wasn’t w/ her to see her last year. I wasn’t aware of the specific symptoms. how hidious!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    no it’s not.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Louis, my friend, there are those in this world for whom it’s more important, or at least easier to be “right” than to truly see through another’s eyes. For myself, everything I’ve had to say has been said. We’ve changed a few players, but the stances are the same, and as likely as not never to change, except perhaps in some unfortunate personal experience.

    For me, I’m done. See y’all on another blog post, because all now are just talking at each other, some with pat answers that obviously come from the same authors and pastors, and others trying to say that one size seldom fits all, however much we’d wish otherwise.

    Be well, my friend, and thanks for the “follow.” I don’t have many folks who’ve followed me on Disqus, and the majority of the few that do, I have no idea who they are or why they’ve chosen so. … kinda creepy, at times, I think…

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    leaveit2beaverism!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    we?

  • Guest

    Why do you say only Christians disagree with her choice? Are there no atheist who disagree with suicide? or ending ones life in this way? I agree with 90% of your article but it seems to be written as much to attack Christianity as it is to support Brittany. Perhaps Jews disagree or Muslims.. Could you not have just written that “those who disagreed” without targeting a label.?

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    ever notice how 2 dimentional ppl tend to project their cartoonyness on others? i think they do anyway.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Yes… I think I’ve traced my problems down to being scarred for life due to mom leaving her pearls in the box before she vacuumed the floor… {*chuckle*}

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Probably has something to do with that Ben is a Christian minister, and the majority of his readers are Christian, and Ben wrote this article regarding his own personal journey as a Christian minister regarding Ms. Maynard, as well as the 9/11 horror… I’m not of the mind that my not being a “Christian” makes my input less valuable or valid, and I’m not of the mind of one commenter who seemed to say that. I won’t use their Holy Book in quite the same way, and won’t use the same proof-texts used here, if any at all, and I’m not an Evangelical or specifically any sort of what a Christian would consider. But, as Ben named it “Formerly Fundie,” and as I’ve got oodles of experience about that, I kinda knew before I subscribed to Ben’s blog a few months ago that it wasn’t a Jewish, Atheist or Muslim blog.

    Since that’s really what Patheos is about, I’m sure you’ll find similar discussions on at least some, each bearing it’s own flavor, but y’know, some things are truly self-evident.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    in a way, i think is significant, homeless ppl are being forced to die by structural violence. It may be slow death by a compilation of life circumstances and situation but it seems to me to be suicide or a kind of public execution or both.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    Dignity/schmignity those that do have done what they did & it was dignified enuf. they are human. ms. maynard died dignified. she is no less human. you and i will die. I’ll choose her way out if i have medical coverage.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    in many comments i think i am seeing end stage religious addicts who have lost most of their humanity and become inhumane.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    wow! i know you have suffered deeply and, i think, well b/c i am hearing all you say b/c it resonates w/ me & validates my experiences w/ grief, loss & suffering. i think not everyone can hear you. some of the swine will trample your pearls & turn to rend you. I think prob you already know that. This is life or death we are talking here!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    it was a type of suicide.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i think the black & white thinking goes well w/ insisting ‘one size fits all’. as well, i think the ‘pull yourself up by your own bootstraps’ may belong to the province of ‘magical thinking’

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    religion addiction. might be worth your time blogging about it. you certainly get a lot of ppl commenting on your blog who are suffering from it and for it.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    We’ve each got our scars, my friend, and we each have life events that have shaped us to be whom we are… if we’ve had a life outside of the comfortable cushions some seem to experience. I’ve made my stances clear here, while also putting it where it needs to be… It’s not that people are not entitled to disagree, even about the biggest things. It’s the party that interprets disagreement with persecution who support the prosecution of any physician who’d dare to whisper alternative options to their patients… They’d not admit it, as with much else, if admitted they were possibly wrong about one thing, what else would they be wrong about and oh, my the world will crash around their ears. I’m admittedly quite open-minded about everything except the existence of God… But since my conviction was not a gift to anyone but myself, I’m under no compulsion to gain converts to theism. I just tend to, unrealistically, I admit, expect other people to not be afraid of questioning, and to not freak out when reality doesn’t match up with the comfortable fantasies… Rather, to me, like the arguments regarding evolution. Whatever one’s learning about that, it’s more important to me that God did it. How he chose to do it… well, if He’s God, he’s kind of unlikely to be kicked off his throne by facts that don’t happen to match up with an English translation of Hebrew legends and concepts…

    What are big things to me, are damned few but self-evident. Arguing over the minutiae of the “how” is a waste of time.

    Caring for others as one want’s to be cared about is a biggie, and that counts getting one’s own fear, terror and aversion out of the way so one might be able to help someone else’s. How I feel about the person’s dying pain should always take a backseat to the person’s dying pain itself. Concerned about one’s actions sending someone to hell? Assuming hell exists, that decision’s pretty much above everyone’s paygrade… Afflicting the comfortable’s fun sometimes, but more important is comforting the afflicted, in every way we have available to us. Anything short of that, whatever else it is, it ain’t love, but selfishness…. selfishness, perhaps justified by selective readings of Bible verses and the corresponding happytalk of one’s fellows, but selfishness and self-centeredness nonetheless.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I know I said I was done with this thread, but, durn it Louis, I keep getting notified of a directed comment! LOL

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    I think there is no need for labels as the hallmarks of religion addiction are self evident; black and white thinking, tunnelvision, Hidebound conformity, benchmarking. All addicts have these things going for them, I think. As well the loss of humanity & humane behavior.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    yes! self evident & universal to addicts especially religion addict. (i know b/c i am an addict in recovery) it has been most instructive for me to read and study this comment board. the religion addicts army here on cory’s blog is presenting a unifide front and is a kind of lens into the hidiousness of the progressivness & invasion of the nature of the disease in its distruction of an addicts humanity & humane attitudes & behavior.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    I would really like it if Ben or someone would blog about religion addiction. I have been well taught by these comments by the addicts still in denial.

  • Because this is a Christian blog, written to the Christian community by a Christian theologian.

  • Debbie

    This post is very well written, thank you so much for putting it in a way that is enlightening no matter what the comments are from others. Having a son that has a terminal brain cancer, I hope that if he ever makes the same choice as Brittany that I am as strong as her family and her husband. It will not be an easy choice for anyone to make.
    I think that those who are making comments should have to walk a day in their lives to see what it involves before making a judgment against those that are living with this horrible beast.

  • InDogITrust

    That author says she doesn’t want to bring shame on Brittany, but she does, by saying basically, nooo! Dignity is doing it my way!
    The dignity in Brittany’s death is that it was on her terms. She decided what was best for *her.*

    All these people saying, i’d never do that, she was wrong, are missing the point. Brittany was not saying anyone *should* do what she did; she was saying people should be able to decide for themselves.

    The author says ‘what about the people who loved her, don’t they have a say.’ It was very clear that her husband and family were involved in her decision, and it’s low of anyone to overlook the facts that we do know – that her family was involved – and at the same time assume we know everything – we don’t know what she suffered in her last days- and make broad statements about what she should have done.

    I’m very happy that the author and her mother are having their time together, but to imply that Brittany was a coward because she didn’t want to go through surgery and chemo and all that, well, that’s despicable.

    People should be able to decide for themselves and what one person choses has nothing to do with what another choses.

  • InDogITrust

    Yes, rainbows exist, and science can explain what causes them and why they appear when. And it is very clear that they have nothing to do with a promise to not commit genocide by flooding again.

    Science cannot prove unicorns don’t exist because science doesn’t work to try to prove negatives. That’s why science cannot prove god doesn’t exist. Or that invisible smurfs living in the middle of the sun don’t exist. Science doesn’t work that way.
    What science works with is evidence and there is not one iota of evidence for the existence of god.

  • Vince

    With respect, to the contrary the Bible is one of the most well-documented and corroborated pieces of ancient literature in history. Check out these links for comparison and further research. Also, one can choose whether to believe that YHWH is real, that Jesus is divine, etc., but the vast majority of historians secular or otherwise do not doubt the historicity of the Bible as a whole.

    https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1441-new-testament-compared-to-classical-literature-the

    And the paragon of scrutiny for all things religious: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_the_Bible

    http://irr.org/todays-bible-real-bible

  • InDogITrust

    Not sure why you bring this up, but yes, it does raise questions: people who think life is so valuable, regardless of any quality, that they condemn a dying woman because she wanted to control her passage, yet they are surrounded by people dying slow deaths from lack of basic necessities; you have to wonder whether their reverence for life takes them to volunteer at the homeless shelter, or into the voting booth to vote against politicians who campaign to cut programs that assist the most vulnerable.

  • InDogITrust

    No, the events in the bible are not well documented and most secular historians do not accept the historicity of the bible.
    You link to a christian site, of course it’s going to claim that. Go to some secular sources and see what they say.

  • InDogITrust

    You are a compassionate wise person. Best of luck with your mother.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I just happened to see your comment in my subscription feed Debbie.

    Please accept my best wishes and sympathy. Love that boy of yours for all you’re worth, as long as you can. And whatever his decision, continue to love him in the same way. My deepest blessings to you and yours.

    Rev. Paul

    (yep, I am… just a fiercely non-sectarian theist one… {*gentle smile*}

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Thank you, my friend. Not so sure about the wise part though, although I do try to have compassion as my primary value, and scold myself when I forget.

    Just an eternal seeker and observer of the human condition. Any wisdom I possess is only due to those from whom I’ve learned it, across the board.

  • Philosophizer4Life

    so… Anyone that suffers from seizures &/or debilitating seizures should die.?. Or, we should support it, and label it Dying w/ ‘Dignity’.?. Definition of suicide is – the action of killing oneself intentionally.

    As humans, we tend to like to change names, like, Pro-‘Choice’ for Aborting (bring to a premature end, to end, to stop something- thus, murder is also aborting/ for they are putting a premature end to something) their own child, or supporting it for others, to make something we KNOW as wrong, sound ok. Justifiable in our eyes.

    There is no dignity in giving up, nor is there in killing oneself- and this is regardless to Christian values or that of the secular world (well, at least that is what the secular world has been telling us for centuries). And though I do not condemn her, for I do not wish that on anyone, nor can we know the state of her soul, or her true understanding of what she was doing (she did have brain cancer, after all, which very well could have affected her decisions), and I pray for the repose of her soul. No God fearing Christian can ever support such an act, let alone support the legalization of suicide and forcing Medical Drs to go against the very oath they swear to keep.

    It isn’t about “praying the cancer away”, it is about chosing and respecting the precious and short life we are gifted. It is about trusting in God, that no matter the outcome, He can bring good from it. It is also fact that humans are fallible, and in a day and age where medical Drs are being sued for every little thing, out of fear, they must not give hope and give the worst case prognosis. Yet, when we do a very quick search of the exact cancer and stage that she had, we find a lot of hope! We find that her age and health prior to diagnosis adds even greater hope. We find chat groups of survivors. We find many that have been in full remission for yrs, and many more that are yrs past the few months of life prognosis for told. We find people living, fighting, and keeping symptoms mostly at bay. And to say “seizures” is a justifiable reason to support suicide, or bad headaches.. Well, there are many that suffer from far worse, everyday, for decades and decades.

    My uncle had esophageal cancer. A cancer that there is no surgery for. A cancer that has gruesome symptoms, and has truly a minimal survival rate. My uncle was given a few months, but he to fought. And though it did take him, he fought hard and nobly, for which his wife and daughter can be proud of. His strong fight gave him nearly 3 more yrs w/ his wife and daughter. It gave my mom the opportunity to fly out and visit with her brother, as well as us the ability to visit w/ our Uncle. Memories that could’ve been tarnished if he chose to give up completely and end his life. A memory for his daughter, who greatly suffered through his death, that when it gets bad it is ok to kill yourself (which, if that would’ve been the route he took, I’m fairly certain she would’ve! Only because he fought, and made her promise to fight through her sadness and not give up on life, is she still here).

    There is no dignity in giving up OR not even trying to fight! That is fear.. And though Brittnay might have actually been due to the cancer affecting rational thought, and I do pray for her, her well spoken words should not make us think that dignity is anywhere in suicide :(

  • Debbie Robinson

    Beautifully put.

    I don’t understand why this is so hard to understand. These should be the easiest ‘shoes’ to walk in because we are all going to get to that point (except for a few lucky people who die in their sleep or are killed instantaneously) one day. We all have to die sometime and most of the time dying is horrible, difficult and painful. We can also know ahead of time what is going to happen, so why can’t we choose?

    I hope more people read your post and get it – finally.

  • Actually, giving up is always an option. And often a good one. I pursued an acting career for three years in Los Angeles. When I finally came to understand the reality of the business (you need to be highly social and make contacts–talent is a very small part of getting work), I realized that I could keep pounding away at an industry that aggressively worked to keep people out, or I could move closer to family and be involved in the lives of my niece and nephew as they grew up. So, yes. I gave up on my acting career. It was a calculated decision and I’m glad I did.

  • You do realize not everyone believes like you, right? Not everyone wants to fight fate. And that’s their right. It’s your right to fight to the end. But no one HAS to fight to the end.

  • I couldn’t agree more, Doris! The love that Jesus showed on the cross is the lens through which I view all scripture. Blessings, girl!

  • Rachael Spainhour

    true no one has to. but it makes me sad for the family who will not be left with any closure. they will always be left with “what if”.

  • Rachael Spainhour

    there’s a huge difference in giving up on a career that you have given a chance, and giving up on a life that could still yet be full.

  • Rachael Spainhour

    feelings are mutual. have a good day friend :) and I hope should you ever face the same fate as Brittany Maynard that you will fight on and not give up.

  • Stevie D

    Debbie I hope you can enjoy good times with your son in the time that you have together and that those good memories are the ones that you keep.
    I wish you strength to deal with the situation, now and in the future.

    Be strong and make the best decisions you can with the information available to you at the time.

    Peace and affection to your whole family.

  • Stevie D

    QUOTE:

    “But she cut her life short on a whim.”

    How dare you?

  • Sarah McDavitt Woods

    Excellent example of the knee jerk, manipulative, judgemental, holier than thou Christian perspective. Exhibit a. A helpful reminder of why I steer wide and clear of the dozens of Christian churches in my community.

    Regarding your reckless manipulation and inaccurate characterization of my position – no, I don’t think anyone under any circumstances ever should be pressured into taking their own life. People have every right to endure as much pain and suffering in the dying process as they want. They can choose to fight a losing battle if they want. They can choose to believe that by some miracle they will avoid their fate. They can roll the dice and see if they will be that rare person who beats the odds. They can decide that for them the dying process is tolerable – no matter how excruciating, debilitating, and degrading.

    I also don’t think someone should be pressured into staying alive for the sake of their family. If they don’t want to endure the end stages, they should not be shamed, shuned, guilted, or lectured by obnoxious family members who think it is their God-given right to insert themselves in a decision that is between them and their doctor.

    It’s easy to sit in an armchair and make harsh judgments when you are not living with a terminal diagnosis. Very easy. Too easy. I’m sure there is a wise Christian ethicist somewhere who would gladly yank you off your high horse.

    People are different. They don’t all feel the same way about dying when that is their fate. I believe people should have the right to make their own choices with their doctors. Period. Brittany made a decision about how she wanted to deal with a medical decision. For her it was a relief to know she didn’t have to endure increasingly miserable symptoms for months or years on end. It was her choice.

    And that is what Christians can’t stand. People making moral decisions they disagree with. They characterize a moral difference as immorality. They assume a person who stakes out a different moral position is immoral rather than differently, though equally, moral. Brittany was very thoughtful. The people who supported her were and are very thoughtful. She did not make a hasty or rash decision. She felt strongly enough about her right to make that choice that she moved to a state where she would have the option to take her prescription. She very much had the option not to take it, ever, and live through the entire dying process.

    Again, thank you for reminding me why I avoid churches like the plague. Your immaturity, lack of compassion, theological mediocrity, and triumphal posturing make me want to barf.

  • Stevie D

    Mike,
    I’m pleased you made the best of your final few days with your grandfather, and that that has informed how you feel you will act when your time comes.

    I’m also pleased that you offer this as your personal experience rather than as criticism or a prescription of how we all should behave – some others here seem to believe they know best how we all should live or die.

  • Tellico

    I can see that some of you speak as someone who hasn’t watched a loved one go through horrendous form of cancer. I was 22 when my dad was diagnosed with the worst form of brain cancer out there. He had 3 terrible months of chemo, radiation, and physical therapy to try and get his strength back. The end was horrible he couldn’t speak, couldn’t move, and was in horrible excruciating pain.Wish FL had the death with dignity because I and my family wouldn’t of had to watch that. No it did not make me stronger it just left me with the horrible pictures in my mind of my dad being weak man. People can sense when they are going to die and there is nothing else doctors nor God can do. Don’t you dare say I am not a Christian because I am.

  • Debbie

    Thank you Stevie, we make sure there are many great memories. For his birthday I’m working on him going to see his favorite comedian. Then 2015 is celebrating his 10 year anniversary of his Make-A-Wish trip by going back again. He is one of my Pride joys.

    Thank you so much for your kind words.

  • Wicked Red

    I think it makes a difference that a child is writing about a parent. As a child, we *expect* our parents to go first. As we get older, we understand that maybe we will have to take care of them. Nobody expects to get a death sentence in the prime of their life. Great for her mom that her *mother* is satisfied with her choice. But what would this woman say if her mother had made a different choice? Would she be online writing blogs about how her mom was brave enough to choose not to suffer? I seriously doubt it.

  • Wicked Red

    Does it matter? Our laws in the U.S. are not and were never intended to be Biblical. You may govern your own life on the teachings of the Bible, but that does not give you the right to govern the lives of others in the same way. A person trapped in a burning building who chooses to jump out a window is not Biblically waiting for “God’s will”….or is he? Have you *ever*–even once–considered that perhaps your God is working through those same people to teach you to think and feel beyond yourself?

  • Wicked Red

    Because 1) Proving something *doesn’t* exist is outside the realm of science and a futile endeavor and 2) you haven’t paid any attention to the multitude of evidence against the events of the bible.

  • Doris Windham McDaniel

    Thanks for pointing out to me what” I have or have not” paid any attention to when U don’t know me at all. Showing people U care instead of trying sooo hard to impress them with your(so called) intelligent words adds so much more to one’s character

  • sdsures

    Judge not, lest ye be judged.

  • sdsures

    *nod* I’m sorry about your dad and mom.

  • sdsures

    Not at all. Hath not a Jew eyes?

  • sdsures

    Not unless you count schizophrenia as an illness. You talk to God, you’re religious. If God talks to you, you’re psychotic.

  • Scott Thacker

    religious belief and bible bashing is inappropriate here.Many of these people only follow these laws of “God” to try and hide the wrong they have done in a pathetic way to achieve forgiveness.Imagine having to deal with this such a brave young lady .

  • Paul Julian Gould

    And the second clause of that verse makes the emphasis stronger —

    Note that it does not say “for in the same way you read your Bible,” or “for in the same way you think you are doing something for someone else’s own good…”

    It says “for in the same way you judge others, you WILL be judged.”

    Makes it a lot more a warning and a waitaminnit moment than the first clause implies, yes?

  • sdsures

    Yep.

  • Evolved Primate

    Thank you and may you be wrapped in his noodley appendages always. I think you missed my point when you mentioned rainbows. At least InDogITrust understood! I could have mentioned Big Foot, Loch Ness Monster, Tooth Fairy, or Santa. Scientists can’t prove that they don’t exist any more than your iron age middle eastern deity, who compared to Darth Vader makes him seem like a really nice bloke!

  • Are you seriously calling Jesus schizophrenic?

  • FragOut13

    “Giving up” implies that there was some chance of success if she’d just kept going a little while longer. Practically speaking, no such chance existed here. I think the 9/11 jumper analogy was spot on. Did the people who jumped from the towers “give up”? Did they make a choice that was “undignified? Because there’s no difference between what they did and what she did.

  • sdsures

    What else do you call someone who hears voices?

  • InDogITrust

    One hopes she would have been happy for her mother’s sake that her mother was able to decide what *she* wanted to do.

  • Kelly Marie Hadden

    Maybe God IS glorified by her story by demonstrating an example that what matters in the QUALITY not the QUANTITY of life.

  • Lark62

    I am sorry for your loss. I am glad his very last moments were peaceful.

    But the last two months sound horrendous. Vomiting for hours. Muscle spasms with no opportunity for relief. Don’t you think that a dying person might not want to experience all of that, and might not want to put his family through watching a loved one endure that? Would it be possible that someone else might want to make a different choice? Would it be possible that others might not believe that a peaceful last day offsets months of pain and terror?

  • Lark62

    Where does it say that Brittany chose her last day based on doctors expectations months before? She made her decision based on her symptoms.

  • Lark62

    But her type of cancer hasn’t been cured yet, so she did okay.

  • Lark62

    Who are you to say for another person that months of pain and slow deterioration is a “full life.”

  • Lark62

    Your lack of compassion is sad and disturbing.

  • Lark62

    Sorry, but what piece of evidence indicates that the parents don’t have closure? I don’t think my parents would “get closure” by watching me suffer horrendously for months and die in pain.

  • Sigh. That kind of anti-theism stuff doesn’t contribute to conversations, it’s just straight anti-religion antagonism.

  • Guest

    Mr. Corey, Thank you for the discussion. I agree with you; Ms. Maynard made a choice between two ways to die. I don’t blame or judge her–who am I to decide what is best for her? However, I have concern regarding the labeling of her choice as “death with dignity.” I feel strongly that this portrays natural death as undignified, which perpetuates fear. If the argument is about choice, one must broaden the definition of “death with dignity” not narrow it. I’ve been a hospice nurse for over 15 years. I’m also the mother of a child who died by suicide. We say “died” by suicide, not “committed” suicide. People who die by suicide die from illness, not choice. Some of the things you say about suicide cause me great concern because they contribute to the prejudice and misunderstanding that keep people silent and from seeking treatment. I wrote a book about this. If you’re interested, it’s called “Find Gregory St. Amand”. Ms. Maynard died by illness too.

  • abby315w

    Honestly shouldn’t the whole discourse boil down to the fact that GOD is the one who should number our days and not us? The Falling Man & others were going to die that day either way. It’s apples to oranges. You’re basically saying suicide is okay. Robin Williams had Parkinson’s. He was going to die of the disease. Was it okay he ended his life? It is a slippery slope because once people say it’s okay to choose how a person ends their life, it’ll be okay to eventually make that decision for someone else that has a viable life outside of machinery. Will it be okay to kill Grandma when she has dementia but her body isn’t failing? After all she’s going to die of it one way or another.

  • The idea that anyone treats lightly the taking of their own life is absurd. Your slippery slope argument is a fallacy–you have no grounds to say we will suddenly start killing old people due to Brittany having decided to end her life and avoid the ravages of brain cancer. It’s by no means a slippery slope. Taking your life is a brutal decision and only come to after agonies can no longer be born. Please read the comments–there are so may people who have already responded way better than I to the exact thoughts you bring up.
    And suicide is between one person and their God. Neither you nor I get to have a say in the matter nor judge that decision. Only God does. And seeing as he is compassion and love incarnate, I seriously doubt that he won’t show exactly that to Brittany and Robin.

  • Guest

    The origin of the word suicide is Latin: sui “of oneself,” and cilium “to kill”. To kill oneself describes the act without any implication of judgment. The definition is not “choose to die.”

  • Debra Blouin

    I meant to be clear that I was referring to articles and not posts. I used the word “comments” in the sense that an article writer issues a commentary, not in the way it coming to be inferred as replies to such articles. Comments boards are notable for entertaining the spectrum of discourse from the banal, to the specious, to the horrifyingly heartless. The anonymity and lack of true accountability gives some people license to let their worst selves show. On the other hand, it is also place where true debate and conversation takes place. I have yet to read an article by a fundamentalist pastor condemning this woman to hell or insisting that she should have suffered for God’s glory.

  • Debra Blouin

    This article does a pretty good job of addressing the issue of judgment.http://consumingchristianity.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/judgmental-or-sound-judgment/
    I think sound judgment is sorely lacking in our culture. And thus bad conclusions are drawn and poor decisions made.
    Pompous, hypocritical, or falsely-pious judgment is denigrated in the Bible. But that admonition did not exempt people from needing to make sound judgments about people, behavior, and decsions.

  • Fred

    So this is how we evolve and learn to accept the truth. Thank you for sharing that journey with us.

  • gimpi1

    I understand that’s what you believe. However, God and Satan aside, when we write laws forbidding something, we do as a society demand the opposite. If choosing to end a terminal struggle with cancer is illegal, we’re demanding that the dying person suffer further. By leaving the choice up to the individual, we’re honoring free will.

  • gimpi1

    And that’s fine. That’s your choice. Others choose differently. And that’s fine, too. That’s why I don’t like laws restricting individual choice. You can choose to fight for every breath. Ms. Maynard chose to go out on a high-note, as it were, before the disease became too debilitating and painful for her to bear. Freedom to choose your own way. That’s my stance.

  • gimpi1

    I read it. Someone chose differently. That’s fine. Different people, different choices. Since I don’t support any laws demanding people choose to cut short a terminal illness, any more than I support laws forbidding it. I don’t understand your point.

  • gimpi1

    I have a problem with anyone using Christian principles as points of law, since that law will be in force over non-Christians. To me, laws only exist to prevent us from doing fairly profound harm to each other or to the world around us. I think something can be profoundly wrong or sinful, and still not be a matter for the law.

  • Mark

    Until you have been in her place, you are not capable of making the choice. When you are faced with impending death, and the only alternative you have is the kind of death, then you can decide what is cowardice. I think, and likely Sevie D thinks, that you are misguided. Perhaps he hopes that people will pray for God to give you some compassion.

    Ultimately, it makes no difference to Brittany what you or I or Stevie D thinks about what she did. God – if there is a God – is the only voice that matters at this point. The God I believe in would not punish her for making the decision she made, between the lesser of the two “evils” that confronted her.

  • Mark

    I thought the 9/11 comparison was exactly spot-on. What makes you say it was a “shitty comparison”?

  • Vicky B

    The difference is that the people in 9/11 had moments to live, hours at the most. Brittany had potentially months. She was still in fairly good health, smiling, laughing, and going on trips with her family. Brittany started looking into this back in January. That doesn’t sound like someone who is scared of the building on fire, that sounds like someone who found a way out, gave in and then gave up. She wasn’t strong, she never fought it, she did her bucket list and said “good enough”. She could have said “not yet” and kept on pushing, who know how much longer before she was at that smoke engulfed room. Who knows how many of those presents she could have given to her family instead of just buying them for after she’s gone.

    Websters defines hero as:
    1. a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

    or maybe you’re comparing her to the second definition:

    2. a submarine sandwich

    In which case, that’s just weird.

    I am done talking about this, I have already had a discussion with another person. Feel free to search and find our discussion if you want to read my views on it.

  • Beth

    Please, if you’re discussing suicide, help dispel the misinformation by not saying “committed”, which is left over from the Middle Ages when suicide was seen as a sin and a crime. Words matter. To discuss things empathetically, use “died by suicide”. Also, the definition of suicide is not: choose to die. The origin of the word suicide is Latin: sui “of oneself,” and cilium “to kill”. To kill oneself describes the act without any implication of judgment. Brittany’s illness drove her to end life early, as did my son’s.
    Beth

  • Beth

    Dear Rachael,
    I hope I can help you understand how destructive this point of view is to people who suffer; it can actually promote suicide rather than prevent it. Please read my book: Find Gregory St. Amand (see YouTube book trailer) and then contact me if you want to talk further about it.
    Love, Beth

  • Stevie D

    I think your comment on languaging is very important, Beth. I have to admit that I hadn’t made that conclusion until reading your post – I will remove “committed” from that phrase.

  • consumer87

    You already have a variety of options available to you. Many of them are not legal. So you want the legal right without authority. That’s problematic. The posts I am reading are incredibly subjective, hardly the substance on which to enact law. I am of the opinion that we err when we legislate by exception rather than by rule. If the “unthinkable” should occur, should not everyone have the option to end it by taking the perfect pill that would allow them to slip painlessly from this world on their own terms? If this is compassionate and right for Brittany, who are you to deny this to anyone who deems this option necessary for any reason? Where do you draw the line, especially if you, as you say, “don’t want people in authority denying you that option.”

  • Paul Julian Gould

    {*sigh*}

    Look, as I informed another commenter, for the past 5 days, I’ve been all over this thread, and made my same points to multiple commenters multiple times.

    Should you be so bored as to think they’re worth reading, have at it.

    On this thread, about this subject, I’m done. Plenty of folks disagree, and that’s not a problem for me, but repeating myself ad infinitum will obviously serve no point except to show me as obsessive/compulsive, and out to “win” some non-existent competition.

    I’ll not convince you, nor is it my desire to do so with anyone. Stated my positions, defended them on occasion.

    Close to 1,000 comments on this thread, with some surprising admissions of at least being given something about which to meditate, but basically 2 camps talking at each others.

    Have a great day, and I wish you peace.

  • consumer87

    I will do my best to check them out. Thank you and good day.

  • CJ Caggiano

    Job had faith despite more physical and mental pain and suffering than Brittany ever faced. Jesus came to conquer eternal death that we might share in His resurrection and have eternal life. Death is a fact of this life which even though God never desired, no one escapes it’s occurrence. Believe and be resurrected unto eternal life. Don’t believe, and His Will and provision for all things willfully apart from Him is eternal death, period. This limited time we have He gave us to choose life w/Him or death w/out Him-it’s His time no matter what choice we make.

  • Todd McDaniel

    The only flaw in your logic was that her death wasn’t imminent as with the folks in the Twin Towers, and there is always hope for those with cancer to recover regardless of how small a % that is. who is to say that a breakthrough couldnt have been made during the following months since her death? I’d rather not rob myself of that chance.

  • Michelle

    It’s interesting how the term “suicide” can be twisted and reshaped to fit our own personable thoughts and beliefs. Nowadays there is no right or wrong, black or white. Instead there is the acceptance of “I can do no wrong no matter what the circumstance” because we live in a society consumed in shades of gray. Suicide simply still means killing yourself.

  • Nick Winters

    And this is where you lose me, as an atheist. Since I don’t believe any deity exists, what you suggest amounts to wanting to torture this women to death for an imaginary (in my context) being’s pleasure. Do you see how horrible it is, that you would care more about letting some Thing beyond our comprehension slowly and agonizingly destroy someone then giving her the opportunity to end her 99.9% guaranteed agonizing pain?

    This is why I consider certain strains of Christian thought to be fundamentally lacking in the capacity for empathy. Not all Christians, certainly; but your version of the religion, Guest, subsumes your ability to have compassion and treat people as fellow creatures to the destructive whims of a monstrous torturer.

  • Mark

    I’ve read enough of your views. The fact is, you’ve made your judgement without the benefit of walking in her shoes, and you really don’t know how strong she was, how she was feeling, what she had to look forward to in regards to her health. The people in the World Trade Center could have said “not yet” and kept on pushing for moments, or minutes. Maybe imminent death isn’t just measured in moments and minutes.

  • Beth,

    I am a suicide survivor as well, having lost an immediate family member to suicide, and I’m sorry for the loss of your son. However, “commit” can simply mean “to do or perform” and as a suicide survivor, I personally don’t find it offensive but respect that you feel differently.

  • Beth

    Thank you for your kindness. I’m sorry for your loss too.
    I think, though, that if we’re to help people change attitudes about suicide in order to focus less on judgment and more on attending to suffering, it makes sense to start with what rolls off the tongue so frequently without any thought. I advocate for the change from “committed” for several reason, but mainly to stop habitual thinking and encourage people to step back and, hopefully, see a broader picture. Just like you’re trying to do in this thoughtful article.
    Thanks for the discussion.
    Beth

  • Mark

    “His purpose…was to be crucified.” Wow, so none of the other stuff Jesus did, none of what he said, mattered? All the teaching and showing us how to live and love and care for others was just inconsequential fluff, something he did just to pass the time until it was time for the sacrifice. And all the while, God could have “saved” us any way He wanted, in which case Jesus’ life becomes pretty much pointless.

  • Debra Blouin

    Where do you think most moral laws come from? And civil laws for that matter? That wasn’t the point of my comment or of the article. The article dealt with the wrong of abandoning all judgment in order to avoid be called “judgmental”.

  • Mark

    Why do you say that? You’d had last rites, and were about to go home to Jesus, right? And now you’re stuck back at the bus stop, waiting for your ride outta town.

    This is the part I have never really understood about people who believe that Jesus died to save us from a vengeful, spiteful God that would just as soon send us to hell for eternity. If we are supposed to be “not of this world” and are just using this place as a cosmic waystation whilst awaiting our heavenly home, why not look forward to the transition? As a matter of fact, and just for the purpose of argument, I’d have been better off had my mom humanely euthanized me as an infant rather than let me grow up and come to the conclusion (erroneously, and to my eternal consequence, in the minds of the fundamentalist Christianity Nazis) that there is no eternal hell to fear.

  • gimpi1

    In the U.S. our laws are based on the constitution. Laws exist to keep us from causing harm to each other or the world around us. Civil law has no business touching anything else.

    As to “moral law” I have no idea. I don’t believe in passing laws based on anyone’s idea of what God desires, in part because you can’t get any two people to agree on what that is, and in part because people’s concept of God has no business being inshrined in law in a secular democratic republic.

  • Mark

    But the jokes on you then, as she chose not to pay any attention to your theology or morality, and instead did what she, and her husband and her parents – all the people that mattered to her – agreed was best for her. If – God forbid – you are ever faced with your own immanent death, you can make your own decision then. Perhaps it will be the same one you would have made for Brittany, and perhaps you will think differently when it is staring you in the face.

  • Debra Blouin

    You would do well to learn a little history, especially about the founding of the Unites States of America, what the founders thought about bout the origin of moral law and it’s role and influence in civil law.

  • Mark

    Perhaps you are afraid to delve deeply into the psyche’s of terminally ill people, and that is why you consider Brittany a coward. She made a decision based on the circumstances she found herself in, and it was a decision you believe you would not have made under the identical circumstances; but, the fact is, you can’t know, because you are not faced with her circumstance and her choice. It seems to me the height of arrogance to pass judgement on someone you know so little about.

  • Mark

    I read some of Michelle Bowen’s other comments, on other blogs – evolution denyer, Catholics aren’t Christians, etc. She seems to have pretty much everything conveniently figured out.

  • Mark

    Yes, anyone calling Brittany Maynard a coward is taking shots from a position of safety. You can freely argue your position from you theology and moral basis, but you are not dealt the hand she was, you don’t know what she went through, and it is a totally cheap shot – and hateful, because this is a public forum and her friends and family are potentially your readers. It is no less hateful than the Westboro Baptist Church members at a serviceman’s funeral.

  • gimpi1

    Well, I’m sure I could learn more, but I know a bit about it. I know, for instance, that they took pains to not make any references to religious law in the Constitution. I also know that we’ve surpassed them by quite a bit. I can vote and own property in my own name, for instance. (I’m a woman.) We no longer allow slavery. We no longer privilege certain groups.

    However, I’m not overly worried about “original-intent,” in part for the reasons above. I don’t want anyone being able to impose their conscious on mine. I don’t much care if you view your beliefs as superior morally. If I’m doing no substantial harm to others or the world around me, my actions are none of your business, and yours are none of mine.

    That way, both of us can follow our own conscious.

  • Mark

    It is very interesting that the people who seem to be the most convinced they are going to Heaven when they die are the ones who are also fighting so hard to put off the trip.

  • Mark

    Apparently, God gives up. He only seems to care while we are still in our earthly bodies. Perhaps you are more caring of your children than God is of His.

  • Mark

    I’m pretty sure Brittany Maynard never felt “the shame of sin” as you put it. Your personal theology and morality do not translate universally to others, regardless of your holier-than-though views.

    My wife and I watched her mother gradually succumb to Alzheimer’s disease over a period of more than ten years. The final several years – and it seemed much longer than that to all of us – the only difference between Mom being asleep or awake was whether her eyes were open. Most of the family prayed that God would end her pain and take her. I didn’t, because I had already come to the realization that what was going to happen was going to happen, and God was not going to intervene.

  • consumer87

    This is how the arguments sound to me… “Christians are judging Brittany for taking her own life, therefore it must be okay to take your own life. We certainly can’t side with judgmental Christians, so we should redefine suicide so that we can expose Christians as the uncompassionate people that we know they are.” Really? Christians are some of the most compassionate people I have ever known. Quit stereotyping and get to the heart of the issue. The author makes a claim to be a Christian himself, yet makes no attempt to provide any divine authority on an issue which certainly merits it. We are talking about life and death and eternity. To think we can be the final arbitrators of when someone dies deserves a better argument than I can’t side with people with judgmental attitudes.

  • YoungVolcanos

    As a former WTC employee, I find your comparison revolting and inane. Better put would be to ask if WTC employees would have preferred dying in anguish and torment away from their loved ones or slowly and peacefully slipping away over time with their loved one supporting them. Brittany Maynard appeared to have a cushy life and was quite attractive. Her decision seemed more about being pissed off that her looks were taken awya and that her perfect life wouldn’t continue on perfectly.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Hmm… OK… I know it’d be really unrealistic to expect a blog named “Formerly Fundie” could avoid being a haven for those who are of his former allegiance and are eager to show Ben the error of his ways…

    Glad someone’s got all the answers and that they all fit in a tidy box… For this old fart, the more times around the sun I go, the more questions I have, and the bigger that box gets…

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Our system of laws and government was by design patterned after English common law and the parliamentary system… Our Senate corresponds to the House of Lords, and the House to the House of Commons.

    That there have been references to Western Christianity are because of one simple fact… It was the one universal point of reference, as the majority were, in some form Western Christians. References to Hammurabi or Manu really don’t provide much of a handle for most folks…

    But the system and laws themselves are by design based on secular English common law of the 18th century, and nothing more, and nothing less.

  • Mark

    Same; except, I have trouble not expecting others to join me in my relatively recent place of “enlightenment.” (ie, I quit believing in hell – it only took me 50-some years – how can anyone seriously believe in hell?)

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Indeed… it’s rather become that there’s got to be an eternity, as my answers take about a second, but there are too many questions than can be asked in a short span of time… and as verbose as I know I am… well…

  • Valerie Bosselman

    Lark62…with terminal cancer, symptoms change daily. Just 72 hours before Megan died she was alert and fully engaged in life. Things over 4 years changed daily.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    ‘The author makes a claim to be a Christian himself, yet makes no attempt to provide any divine authority on an issue which certainly merits it. ‘
    w/ respect i don’t think he has to dance to your tune.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    w/ respect so what?

  • Lark62

    I know. But Brittany, according to what has been written, made her choice based on her facts not a theoretical prognosis. Her daily seizures were getting worse and weren’t going to get better. She waited as long as she felt she could.

    That aside, I’m sorry for your loss. I should have said this earlier. While theoretical issues are interesting to discuss, I try not to lose sight of the fact that I’m talking to real people. Virtual hug. I’m glad you had good last days to remember.

  • CJ Caggiano

    You don’t obviously value this life, and you speak for more than just yourself when you say “we” await a spiteful God to send “us” to eternal hell. Calling me a Nazi is hateful, and wishing yourself to have been euthanized is clearly suicidal thinking. I’m not judging you, these are your words. So that brings me to the reason I have joy for living yet in a life of hardship and suffering. My heart is very heavy for your current state of mind. My God in me is a God of true love who compels me to reach out to you and tell you its no accident or chance encounter we are engaged in. He knows if given more time here, I would use it to tell you that because of no legal euthanasia, you yourself yet live for a chance to have eternal life with your Creator. So He must love you, as I do, and I sincerely pray that you choose to accompany me on the narrow road which leads to heaven!

  • nitro624

    Did she persue alternative cures like THC?

  • cleos_mom

    But what would the “tooth and nail” fight consist of? Sounds like it would amount to a determination to make a potentially peaceful death as difficult and guilt-ridden as possible.

    Due to technology we now have to make choices that Nature formerly made. It was compassionate, when there was nothing else to be done, to make the sufferer as comfortable as possible and wait with them to the end. But now such an approach can amount to a coercive decision to force the “loved” one to suffer unnecessary pain and degradation.

    IMO much of the anger and pontificating aimed at this woman is a matter of projection and denial of reality.

  • cleos_mom

    So if you begged, pleaded and cried and she gave in — then what? Would getting your own way be so important that you would prefer her passing to be more painful?

  • cleos_mom

    In some contexts, including this one, love can be more destructive than hate.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    My daughters, stepkids and grandkids know that they have my unconditional love, even when it’s about a decision I might not personally make…

    That it’s equally so about big things as it is about what to have for dinner is the point…

    Guilting someone into acceding to my wishes is not love, but manipulation, and that the family knows that will apply no matter the issue is, I’m sure, at least one pressure off.

  • Vicky B

    I have already stated previously that I am done with this conversation. I have already had a discussion with others and do not wish to continue on this topic as there will be no outcome other than many angry and frustrated people who were, not surprisingly, unable to convince the other parties that they should change their opinion on a topic.

  • Valerie Bosselman

    Lark62 Thank you. Really, thank you. You are talking to a very real mom…who at times needs a very real hug…and who would tell you that if Megan made life decisions based on ‘daily’ facts she would have ended her life 2 years prior to her Easter Sunday death. The tenacity of the human spirit is most remarkable. Never, never underestimate the will to live. She lived months beyond medical expectation and prognosis. I blog at http://www.valeriebosselman.com. Your honesty means a lot to me. Brittany was beautiful and led an extraordinary life. Most of all, I pray for her Mom without her.

  • Lark62

    Hugs

  • cleos_mom

    My dad did not die by suicide but he did have an unnecessarily prolonged and unnecessarily painful death due to a family member following exactly the route that the person I was replying to followed: begging, pleading, doing anything that might prolong his life even a few hours — unwittingly, an “it’s all about me” approach. The doctors knew a cash cow when they saw one. They were basically just experimenting on him that last year and although alcohol took some of the edge off, the family was instructed to keep his drinking to a minimum because “you don’t want him to get dependent on it”. WTF???? He was dying! What difference did it make? But all I could do was spike his drinks big-time whenever I was at their house. He quickly learned to wait until I was around so he could ask me to fix them.

    While I can understand in a way why people often put themselves first in situations like this, having understandable motives has no impact on the consequences regardless of whether one drags one’s religion into it or not.

  • gimpi1

    And we’ve come a long way from English Common Law, haven’t we?

    I can vote. So can most people. I can own property in my own right. I can marry who I choose, not have my marriage forcibly arranged by my parents. I can work in any field I choose, as long as I can do the work. My pay is mine, my husband can’t seize it. He isn’t allowed by law to beat me or rape me. I can practice any religion I choose, and convert to another religion if I feel drawn to. I can’t be enslaved, based on race, debt or ethnic status. My property can’t be confiscated without due process or compensation. None of that was a part of English Common Law.

    Would you give up any of those rights?

  • theprozacqueen

    I heard that attitude about my mother. She died of breast cancer in 1998, and someone I know implied that she would have been healed had she “believed right” and had the right kind of faith. They didn’t see that perhaps, in allowing her to die then rather than later, God *was* healing her…she’s with Jesus now and will never suffer or die again.

    I don’t know why I told this story…I guess it works with the “cancer is awful and no one should have to suffer any longer than they have to” angle.

    Cancer is the most horrible thing ever to hit the earth and I for one want it gone.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Wow… that’s what you got regarding my comment?

    I commented in answer to those who insist that our laws are based on the Bible and Christianity…

    They’re not, and I’m further grateful that they are not currently based on English common law of the 18th century as well…

  • gimpi1

    Sorry, yes I did. I misunderstood you to be stating sort of an “originist” view, that we couldn’t go past the ideas of those that that created the basis of our laws. Sort of like the “originist” view of the constitution, where it matters more what the founders may have had in mind than what is just or fair.

    On re-reading, I see I misunderstood. Oops.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    No worries, gimpi, happens to the best of us, and to folks like me, too… /*smile*/

  • Jen S

    The problem with this comparison is that Brittany was not yet in a position of imminent death – she chose to avoid that. Mr. Corey, you are Christian, correct? What is the meaning of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ? Why did he suffer, rather than kill himself? How is it relevant to us, and to the tragic cases of those with terminal illness?

  • Alice Faye Yandle

    I am an only child, I watched both my parents die from cancer. I do not want to be a burden on my family or to spend life like they did. I watched my cousin die from Aids, to go from 160 pound, SiFi reader to being blind and 98 pounds. the day before he died, he called me to say goodbye, he knew his time was up. He told me, if he knew what he was going to go through and what his parents were going through, he would have put a bullet in his brain. I agree with Brittany, I should have the right to die with dignity. I beleive in God, but after seeing what my parents went through and my cousin, I never want to put anyone through that.

  • Lark62

    As a christian, you personally may find meaning in suffering.

    To others, the very idea that we should permit, encourage and/or require other people to suffer to please or appease a god is revolting.

    Brittany was facing imminent death. And yes, she chose to avoid suffering. I would choose that also. Your l have no right to use other humans in your search for the religious meaning of suffering.

  • Lark62

    No. There is not “always hope” of recovery for each and every person currently dying of cancer. Some? Yes. Every one? No. Some people are dying.

    Cures don’t pop out of the ground or drop off of fig trees. It takes years for a treatment or cure to travel from research to testing to approval. Doctors know what treatments are being tested and who is eligible to participate in trials. The idea that an unexpected cure will pop up in a month and a person close to death would suddenly be healed by the magic beans is silly. Expecting a dying woman to make her decisions based on false hope and magic is immoral.

  • Lark62

    If god should number our days, we shouldn’t use medical technology to prevent death. But we do, because compassion matters.

    If I ever have dementia and can no longer recognize family, I would not want to spend years mindless and diapered because humans care more about dodging slippery slopes than mercy and compassion.

  • Philip Haddad

    Christians should show love and compassion, and we should err on the side of life.

    With modern medical advances we have no idea what cures may be right around the corner. When someone decides to preemptively take their life, especially far in advance, how is that not the definition of suicide. The comparison to jumpers on 9-11 is a bit like comparing apples to oranges.

    There was no pre-mediation on the thoughts of those in the burning towers and there was no slick propaganda organization standing behind a decision to take their life and thereby encouraging those in similar circumstances to do the same.

    I don’t know what I would do in that situation, probably re-investigate marijuana & other substances :), and I am not condemning Brittany.

    This group and their ilk used the death of Brittany to accomplish their social agenda, and unfortunately it seems to be working as this poster indicates. The slippery slope argument may be used too much but I believe there is practical application in this instance. We can see the number of people taking their life in Oregon has continued to increase.

    Sometimes people will be intellectually crude and say we have no right to weigh in on something that we are not going through, forgetting that the person making that argument is normally not going through it as well and it is simply using a tactic to stifle debate.
    Therefore, I will end my remarks with the posting of a video entitled “A Letter to Brittany Maynard” from a lady suffering from the same condition.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZR-qB3HaQY

  • Glenn Alexander Lopez

    Well written, you have given me with something to truly think about!

  • hannah

    Its a complex issue and people are just confused. Treatment was not an option for her, dragging out life to its bitter end by quackery (i.e., medical treatment that could not heal).

  • Stevie D

    Ceridwen

    Earlier in this thread you were asking that people should not “trash” people that do not take the pill route (your words)

    Now you feel it right for you to be unkindly critical of someone who took the other route.

    I try to remember The Golden Rule to help me avoid such behaviour.

  • Stevie D

    Wow, if your diagnostic skills are this good you should be triaging for a mental health hospital

  • Stevie D

    Oana I am so sorry to hear of the death of your baby boy; I wish you strength to deal with this loss.

    I agree that your disagreement with Britany’s action does not make you judgemental, neither would an explanation of your reasoning.

    As you say this is an emotive subject for anyone (and even more so if we have been personally touched by similar actions). This makes it so important that we write, carefully, thoughtfully and respectfully in such a thread – which you and a few others have done.

    Some here have written judgementally and disrespectfully – hence some of the distasteful interactions

  • CatKnit593

    I’m not going to weigh into the “suicide/not suicide” debate, but I do want to mention there IS another option: Comfort houses (aka Comfort Care Homes). No, this is not a place where Japanese “comfort women” reside, but it’s end-of-life palliative care in a residential-style setting for the terminally ill who’ve been diagnosed with less than 3 months to live. My dog and I visit one weekly as a therapy dog team. There are only two residents at a time. These dear residents are there because they want to face death with their pain managed and with dignity — they don’t want to die in a hospital, and often their families can’t provide the round-the-clock care they need.

    The comfort houses I know of in Rochester, NY and surrounding areas provide this care free of charge to the resident and their family. It’s not hospice, although residents may have hospice as a part of their care. And it’s staffed mainly by caring, trained volunteers, many of whom have left or retired from the medical field. (See: http://www.crossroadshouse.com/faq.html)

  • Lock

    One could say Jesus’s crucifixion was more like suicide than Brittany’s death. He had all his miraculous abilities, he chose to die when he could have prevented it. Brittany wanted to live and was going to die against her wishes, she just chose in what manner to face her death.

    Christians should probably ease up on judging these situations. If you reject someone choosing to die, you reject the way jesus died. From what I understand, that’s kinda a big deal in Christianity.

  • gimpi1

    My father developed Epilepsy (and other things) as the result of traumatic brain-damage from an industrial accident suffered in his early 20s. He mostly recovered from the injury that left him clinically dead for a period. However, due to a shifting calcified aneurysm in his mid-brain, his seizures became much worse. He went into Status Epilepsy (a constant, uncontrollable seizure) a few months before his 62nd birthday. The constant seizure couldn’t be stopped, and he passed away three days after it started. Epilepsy can be benign, but seizures can be savage, and they can kill.

  • LauraAnn Johnston

    I am well aware of that, it’s called SUDEP. Your father and I both have/had Epilepsy, but for different reasons. I read everything I could about Epilepsy when I was diagnosed and have been on anticonvulsants since I was 14. In fact my cousin Doug, who died of Brain Cancer (2 months to live – he lived for 4 years) and I at one time were on the same seizure medication. I still stand by my statement that seizures are not crippling. Obviously there are organizations out there who believe this as well, I don’t drive and since it has been more than 6 months since my last seizure the bus company won’t give me a Reduced Fare Permit, even though the next one may come at any time.

  • Jen S

    No, Lark62, that was my point – death was not imminent for her. There are people with her diagnosis that have lived for years with a reasonable quality of life. I did not say anyone should encourage and/or require others to suffer, and this certainly does not appease God. Suffering is an evil, but yes, because of Christ, it has meaning and God brings good even out of suffering. Further, I was addressing the author of this article, who IS a Christian, because I would not expect people who do not believe in God to understand. If there is no God, how could suffering possibly be redemptive and have any meaning? If there is no God, what is the point of life, other than to seek pleasure, and once that is not possible, life is meaningless? In that context, yes, Brittany’s choice makes perfect sense. But it should not make sense for a Christian, because we know of the incredible blessing that can come from the cross, which, sadly because of sin (not because of God), comes to all eventually.

  • Lady Blue

    True, but here’s something. A christian should have shared the gospel and prayed that God would heal her. It’s like tending to the poor. you feed a man a day but teach him to fish and you feed him for life.

  • gimpi1

    Well, again, my father died of a seizure-disorder, so I have to regard that as crippling. Perhaps we define the word “crippling” differently.

  • LauraAnn Johnston

    Dead is no longer alive, not crippled. I view the word crippling as unable to do the basic tasks that able-bodied people are able to do. My Grandmother’s cousin was crippled by Arthritis. Erwin’s fingers were so crooked he could not write properly, his writing was beyond illegible. Erwin was in a wheelchair because he had difficulty walking, and even in his wheelchair he was slow in getting to where he needed to go – even if it was only across the room. That is what it means to be crippled. People who have Epilepsy are not crippled. We are ordinary people who have overactive Brainwaves which cause seizures. The greater majority of us, a whopping 95%, often go years between seizures. My record is 8-1/2 years and as of Dec 29th it will have been 3 years between seizures and it is my hope that I will never have another but I also know that the next one could come at any time. I will never allow any person to call myself or another person with Epilepsy a cripple.

  • Summer Holmes-Phillips

    Benjamin L. Corey, thank you for this beautiful article.
    Thank you for your compassion.
    Thank you for your insight and your empathy.
    Thank you for sharing your Christian viewpoint from your initial, knee-jerk objection to the opinion you now have to today.
    We love her.
    We love her grieving mother, our Aunt Deb.
    We wish so deeply we could ease her pain.
    We can’t. No one can. No one ever will.

    Your Christian path of consideration, contemplation, and compassion
    has given me joy. Joy in knowing what this article would have meant to Brittany Diaz,
    joy in knowing what it will mean to Brit’s mom, dad, husband, her
    closest friends, and the many family members who love and support all of
    them.
    Those Brit treasured most, are in my frequent thoughts
    throughout each day. I often pray for the right words to share with them
    that both convey my great empathy and provide their grieving hearts a
    warm, love-filled, “heart hug”.
    This article hugged my heart and I know it will hug the heart of all who love and miss Brittany.
    Thank you, Benjamin Corey.
    You have given all her family and friends, much more than you know.

  • Thanks so much for stopping by to comment, Summer. Much love and peace going out to the entire family. Will continue to keep you all in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Herm

    I’m late to this discussion and won’t be able to read all of the 984 comments so far. What bothers me most about Christians judging Brittany for her, her husband’s, her family’s and her doctor’s choice is how we celebrate Jesus’ and His Father’s choice of time and place to die (for us) to be resurrected and condemn Brittany for the seemingly same choice.

  • Timothy Lanchang

    This is a good article, something i should ponder and read about.

  • Dan Nolan

    I do not think the comparison of the 9-11 jumpers to the Brittany Maynard case is a good one.

    All animals, human or otherwise, have a natural instinct both to preserve their own life and to avoid pain. Of the two, preservation of life is a greater good than avoiding pain.

    In proof of which, we see that animals are willing to endure great pain in order to avoid death. Thus a racoon will gnaw off it’s paw to escape a trap, and in many cases hikers are willing to cut off an arm or leg to find rescue.

    Faced with a situation in which death is immediate and absolute, life not being an option, the only ‘choice’ becomes that of pain management. Hence any animal, rational or not, is willing to leap to its death (less painful) rather than burn to death (far more painful).

    The actions of the 9-11 jumpers, then, was not really a ‘choice’ in the sense of a peaceful conclusion reached after rationally comparing evidence and exercising free will, as much as it was following of the impulses of instinct.

    I would say the the following conditions were present in the 9-11 case, rendering it an ‘instinctual’ choice:
    1. Extreme suddenness of the situation
    2. Extremely short period of time in which to ‘think things over’
    3. Presence (or immediate threat) of agonizing pain
    4. No possible alternative to immediate death

    Regarding the Brittany Maynard case, it seems the following conditions applied, giving more the character of a rational choice:
    1. Gradual realization of the situation
    2. Long period of time in which to think things over
    3. Current pain increasing to agonizing pain (lessened by medication)
    4. No possible alternative to eventual death

    So while pain and death are conditions present in both situations, immediacy and suddenness are not, which impacts whether or not an action can be classified as rational or instinctual.

    Note that I am not saying that Brittany Maynard’s decision was bad, only that the comparison of her situation to the 9-11 jumpers is.

  • Amy

    GREAT article!

    But while I agree totally agree with its sentiments (including its comparison to 9-11’s “Falling Man”), I absolutely do NOT agree with the hypocritical double standard of people being understanding/accepting/tolerating suicide when its by those suffering terminal PHYSICAL illnesses like cancer, but yet condemn suicide when its by those suffering terminal (because even if its treatable, the treatments don’t always help, or work for everyone) mental illness. So as long as they’ve tried (and given a fair chance to) all of the meds, therapies & other treatments, none of them with any success, why shouldn’t those struggling with schizophrenia, or chronic depression have just as much right to end their suffering as those with advanced cancer, or Huntington’s disease do?!?

    It’s like Doug Stanhope so aptly says “Suicide is another thing that’s so frowned upon in this society, but honestly, life isn’t for everybody. It really isn’t. It’s sad when kids kill themselves ’cause they didn’t really give it a chance, but life is like a movie: if you’ve sat through more than half of it and it sucked every second so far, it probably isn’t gonna get great right at the very end for you and make it all worthwhile. No one should blame you for walking out early.”

    EXACTLY!

    Because who are others to claim that the pain of those with chronic psychiatric illnesses is any less valid than those with terminal physical illnesses, and why should others have the right to say that people should be forced to live the rest of their lives in constant agony just because it happens to be that THEIR condition isn’t technically fatal like cancer??

    But then again the battle is long — its taken this long (as well as this particular case) for more people (like the author of this article) to even slowly start accepting the right of people with terminal physical illness to end their suffering, and unfortunately, it’ll probably take even longer for them to accept that those with chronic mental illness should have the same rights!!!

  • Ben

    The truth is, fundamentalist Christians are not strong enough to overcome Islam, or ideas like suicide. Big difference between people who are depressed, on drugs, and those who go to work one day and find no way home, or in Brittany’s case–a long painful end. God Bless her!

  • PinxEngrayz

    Basically, f**k you and the dry, intellectual hair-splitting you rode in on. I sincerely hope you never have to face this kind of choice.

  • PinxEngrayz

    Do you know that didn’t happen?

    And by the way: Bugger off. Until you stand in such shoes — and I hope you never have to — perhaps you should keep your judgment (and yes, you are judging, just trying to gussy it up a bit) to yourself.

  • PinxEngrayz

    I hope you never have to face such a choice — and that you are treated with mercy in all things, rather than with the kind of despicable judgment you dispense. Go work with hospice patients, as I have for 20 years, then come back and tell us about your superior morals.

  • PinxEngrayz

    Dude, I hope you never face such a choice.

    I’ve worked with hospice patients for 20 years. Maybe you should go volunteer to be with the dying, then come back to us with your sanctimonious vomit.

  • Guest

    Taking it kind of personally aren’t you?

  • Guest

    Of course that’s a lie, you hope everyone who you disagree with ends up in such a situation, you’re even gleeful about the prospect.
    Hospice ‘patients’? What are those? Pics, or it didn’t happen.

  • Dan Nolan

    Amazing! I didn’t think anyone would actually see this post, much less read it. Yeah I kind of agree it was a bit pompous to lay out all that as a comment. Better off as it’s own blog posting.

  • Dan Nolan

    I must say though, I also agree with Guest here.

  • Herm

    Empathy and compassion must be taken personally to actually love your neighbor as yourself, as well as to love your neighbor. I find no fault with presenting your well thought out near catharsis of love. If pompous is sharing the fullness of your commenting concern in more than 140 characters then we need more daring to be pompous; let the moderator and God judge. As it is I am thankful for your comments and your humility. Love you!

  • consumer87

    I came across this again and wondered if you could help me know when it is acceptable for someone to take their own life and when it is not and how to know where that line is. When should a person forge on and when should they give up the fight? If I understand you correctly, the least painful way of dying is the best option. Is that right? Additionally, it seems to me that you think a person wants to have definite answers to these questions in order to cast judgement, when in fact, in my case, I want to be able to offer consolation and sound Biblical counsel. I know my previous comment was a bit strong, but given the gravity of what we are talking about and the possible implications to those who wrestle with these very real life and death issues, I guess I hoped you might draw a more definitive line. You present yourself as an authority on the issue and a moderator of this discussion, but it seems to me that you see any disagreement as opposition to be put down and not as people working out their own questions and beliefs. You agree with those who agree with you and ridicule those who don’t. And yet, I would present to you that many of those who come across “judgmental” may actually be struggling with the issue or are feeling conflicted about long held beliefs . Even the father in the parable of the prodigal son was attempting to get to the heart of the pharisee. I say this with all due respect and not wanting to question your heart in the matter, sincerely.

  • Thank you for this article. Human beings tend to push for QUANTITY of life rather than pushing for the QUALITY of life. We unfairly force our loved ones and those we don’t even know to endure excruciating pain and a loss of dignity even when death cannot be avoided, usually because those of us still alive don’t want to experience the LOSS too soon. Brittany Maynard made the right choice for her. Everyone should have that choice.

  • Chuck1

    Great points!

  • Adam Omelianchuk

    I am much too late to this comment thread, but I must say of all the things written about Brittany Maynard and her assisted-suicide, this is the silliest:

    “Like the 9-11 jumpers, Brittany didn’t have a choice in dying, she only had a choice in how she died. You see, there are people like Brittany– terminally ill with imminent death looming– who are essentially trapped in a burning building from which there is no way of escaping with their lives. For some of these people, the idea of being burned alive or having to inhale smoke until death overcomes them becomes less appealing than stepping up to the ledge and accepting a quicker, less painful fate.”

    Apart from ignoring the rather obvious fact that NO ONE has “a choice in dying” and apart from helping yourself to the assumption that those who “jumped” (maybe they fell?) did so out of a reasoned and intentional action, you, for some baffling reason, seem to think that the options of Maynard and others like her were (or are) just as constrained like those trapped in the Twin Towers. This is simply crazy. Here’s an option that was available to Maynard that wasn’t available to the victims of the terror attacks: she was able to pursue comfort care through palliation and hospice treatment. She didn’t go that route, because it wasn’t in line with her values; she had a privilege to exercise her autonomy in a way the “jumpers” did not. The fact that an ostensibly reasonable “scholar” like yourself fails to see this is simply astonishing.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    And, as this thread, 2 years on, is still surprisingly active, update on the information.

    My beloved and darling mother passed on March 26, 2015… I’ve since learned that she instructed my cousin, who had Power-of-Attorney, that if she needed to be hooked to a machine to keep her body ticking, to not bother. Mama apparently chose to take the issue out of everyone’s hands, laid down for an evening nap and chose not to wake up again.

    I miss her terribly, but I know how ready she was to say ‘Goodbye.” I spoke with her a few days before she passed, and that wasn’t Mama… she was ready, and it’s done. She’s with the God she loved and honored all her life, and I know she’s clear-minded and happy…

    If there’s nothing after this life, and I’m mistaken about that, she’s at least in the most profound peace that can be imagined.

  • Krisnt

    It is amazing to me that you can look at this simply through the lens of logic, with seemingly no compassion or empathy.

  • Adam Omelianchuk

    One can have compassion and empathy for Maynard’s situation and still think that Corey’s analogy is silly for the reason (which you did not dispute) I listed.

  • Krisnt

    What you are referencing is all about time. Those with terminal illness and those jumping (and most certainly all did not “fall”) were choosing to die in a less painful, less traumatic way. Hospice, palliative care for those with terminal illness, would not change that. It’s still painful, it’s still traumatic, and even more so, as this impending death and pain drags on for days, weeks, maybe months. And imagine the mental and emotional toll that also takes on a person. Let’s talk about the pain that ensues. The difference between the 9-11 jumpers and people like Maynard is time. Maynard had more, the jumpers had less. Both made decisions to take the easier way out, and for that who could blame them? Who would not say they were logical, smart and acting in their own best interests?

  • Adam Omelianchuk

    I don’t buy the argument that the “jumpers” made some rational calculation between the alternatives of dying in the building and dying by falling, and that they voluntarily chose the latter, because it was “less traumatic”, as you put it. I think there is good reason to believe a certain thing is done voluntarily if, and only if, it is *not* done out of ignorance or compulsion. It is well known that we can move people where we want them to go with smoke and heat. Our animal nature compels us to get away from it. So I don’t accept the rationality calculus thesis, because it assumes a view of voluntary action that is simply implausible given the circumstances. This, I think, is the correct (and compassionate!) way to access the situation; no one thinks that the outcome for the jumpers was the result of some bold, brave act — rather, theirs is purely one of victimhood. This is not the case with Maynard, whose self-annihilating act was judged by many to be a beautiful expression of personal autonomy (which is at least paradoxical). While she was a victim of bad circumstances too, her outcome was the result of a voluntary choice that was celebrated by many. Why the difference if not because one act was voluntary and the other wasn’t? As an eye-witness (from the North side of the 77th floor of World Trade Center 2 faced the South side of World Trade Center 1) reported, “There’s really no other explanation why someone would jump from over 70 stories in the air unless they had no other choice.”

    Nor do I share what appears to be your negative view of hospice care. Those who receive it consistently report a better qualify of life near the end of their lives than those who go without it (despite the hardships involved). Those who soldier on fighting their disease suffer more, and those who kill themselves enjoy nothing at all. And to your question about whether Maynard was “logical, smart and acting in [her] own best interests” — I can think of one subset of people who might question her decision: those who don’t move to Oregon to kill themselves because of a grim prognosis. If those who end their lives in such circumstances are judged to be smart and rational if not praiseworthy, then what should we think of those who refrain from ending their lives? It would seem that a burden is on them to justify their decision to go on living so we won’t think they are irrational. That, I think, is gravely harmful to them: no one, especially the sickest and most vulnerable among us, should have to justify their existence, even if it is small burden of proof to meet. And it is also unfair: healthy people don’t have to bear such a burden at all.

  • Pal

    All of these people chose to die before their time. Period. The future is unknown and rescues could have been made … for example. The cancer could have gone into remission … for example. The fact that we cannot see the future means we should not think that physicians know when someone will die. No one knows when they will die. We should not take our own lives or anyone else’s life before our time to die comes.

    Besides that, people who choose to kill themselves should have the cause of death listed on their death certificates as suicide, period. Why is society sugar coating it? If society is so ready for everyone who is terminally ill to kill themselves then let’s document it for what it really is. Poisoning. When we state on the death certificate a cause of death other than the truth it opens up so much more possibility for abuse of the system. There is really no safeguard from predatory family members forcing or coercing someone who is terminally ill into poisoning themsleves. And the fact that no other family members need to be notified makes it worse. And the fact that the death certificate is then falsified and sugar coated to show some other cause of death that may not have even killed them when their actual death would have come just makes it easier to get away with the murder of poisoning someone. And the fact that no witness is required when the actual killing dosage of poison is administered means anyone could be forced.
    Society is condoning this means of murder and suicide.
    As for falling man, well who knows if some other way out may have been made available. We will never know because he killed himself.
    And animals should never be compared to people. Animals instinctively want to live. Even if they are terminally ill they continue on. When they are too sick to eat they just stop eating and nature will take its course. Has anyone ever heard of VSED? It’s a natural way to kill yourself that can be undertaken without anyone else’s help or approval or malpractice or coercion etc. And it’s been around forever, but when it all boils down what comes out in the wash is still suicide. Period.