Maynard, who was diagnosed in spring of 2014 with untreatable stage 4 glioblastoma brain cancer, took her own life on November 1. In a letter to supporters, she wrote that “[t]oday is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more.”
“The world is a beautiful place,” she insisted. “Travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”
Dolan said that the actions of advocates like Maynard are encouraging state legislatures to introduce bills legalizing the practice of assisted suicide. Last week, three terminally ill New York residents sued the state, arguing that the doctors who provide “aid in dying” be spared from prosecution. State Senator Brad Hoylman said that a bill legalizing physician-assisted suicide could be introduced as early as today.
“The real death with dignity, the real heroes are those who die naturally, who take each day at a time, savoring everything they’ve got. That is death with dignity,” he told the Daily News.
“Whenever there’s something that would affect the dignity of the human person or the sacredness of human life,” Dolan continued, “it’s not surprising that believers would rise up to defend those two principles.”
“The believing community, by that I mean Christians and Jews, would have a philosophical problem with that,” he said. “There are certain things we don’t choose — that would be the beginning and end of life. We believe the Lord has dominion over that.”
Dolan is following the Vatican’s lead on the issue. Three days after Maynard’s death, a Vatican bioethics official condemned her death as an “undignified absurdity.”
“This woman [killed herself] thinking she would die with dignity, but this is the error,” Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula said. “Suicide is not a good thing. It is a bad thing because it is saying no to life and to everything it means with respect to our mission in the world and towards those around us.”