Nearly four months after Brittany Maynard's death, her family has released a video of her testimony for a right-to-die bill in California. She recorded it before her death, and it was presented today to the California legislature ahead of a Senate committee vote.
Maynard, a 29-year-old newlywed from California, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in early 2014, but had to move to Oregon for the legal right to end her own life. Oregon is one of five states that gives patients the right to obtain a prescription to die in their sleep. California and New York are considering adopting similar laws.
"I am heartbroken that I had to leave behind my home, my community, and my friends in California, but I am dying and I refuse to lose my dignity," she says into the camera in the video filmed weeks before her Nov. 1 death. "I refuse to subject myself and my family to purposeless, prolonged pain and suffering at the hands of an incurable disease."
She died at home surrounded by family after spending 11 months completing her bucket list. Toward the end of her life, she said in one of the videos that she could feel herself getting sicker. One day, she had two seizures and couldn't say her husband's name, she said.
In her legislative testimony, she said some people suggested that she do palliative or terminal sedation instead, in which a person is placed in a drug-induced coma and deprived of nutrients and water until death comes on its own. But she feared she would linger and be minimally conscious and in pain.
"Achieving some control over my passing is very important to me. Knowing that I can leave this life with dignity allows me to focus on living," she said. "It has provided me enormous peace of mind."
California is considering the End of Life Option Act, which would allow terminally ill adults who are mentally competent to request medication that would allow them to die in their sleep, according to the nonprofit group Compassion and Choices, which advocates for death with dignity. The Senate health committee's final hearing is taking place today.