Glen Campbell and Brittany Maynard Face Their Mortality Very Differently

1413489817_brittany-maynard-video-article[1]This blog was originally published in the National Catholic Register on Oct. 28, just a few days before Brittany Maynard committed suicide in Oregon.

Two stories battled for my attention recently, and both of them broke my heart.

The first was about Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman with brain cancer who moved from California to Oregon to gain access to legal suicide-inducing drugs. She is planning to die in bed, surrounded by her family, on Nov. 1 (the solemnity of All Saints), two days after her husband’s birthday.

The second story was about the singer Glen Campbell, who decided to go public with his struggle against Alzheimer’s disease. With his children on stage with him for a final, 151-stop musical tour, and the cameras rolling for a ground-breaking documentary, Campbell said: “I ain’t done yet. Tell ’em that.”

Maynard is fighting, through a foundation set up in her name, to expand the right to die beyond the five states that now allow it.

Campbell is allowing himself to be seen in all his vulnerability to show those suffering with Alzheimer’s — some 44 million people worldwide — and all those who will be diagnosed in the future, that, as St. John Paul said, “Life is always a good.”

Our reactions to these stories show that, as usual, we Americans seem to have a split personality. We applaud Campbell for his courage in refusing to go quietly into that good night, and yet many of us also support Maynard’s desire to “die with dignity.”

I do not.

I have watched people close to me die, and, with the rest of the world, I watched St. John Paul suffer with the debilitating and ultimately fatal effects of Parkinson’s disease. It was heartbreaking, and while I prayed for a miracle for all of them, I also prayed that each would have a peaceful death.

But we are not the architects of our own lives, no matter what we think and no matter how many misguided politicians and activist judges we can convince that we are. What Maynard is doing is wrong, and my fervent prayer is that she changes her mind.

With palliative care, we can hope for a death without pain for ourselves and our loved ones, and there is nothing wrong with that. We can refuse extraordinary, unnatural treatments. But to choose suicide — and to further legalize it in this country — is a catastrophic mistake.

Take a look at what assisted suicide and euthanasia are doing to Belgium and Denmark.

In a piece for Front Page magazine last month, Stephen Brown wrote:

“Holland was the first European country to betray its Judeo-Christian heritage regarding the sanctity of life when it legalized euthanasia in 2001. Holland also has the dubious distinction of leading the way in killing babies, as the Dutch euthanasia policy was expanded in 2006 to babies born with severe birth defects.

It therefore should not surprise that Holland is another country where euthanasia appears out of control. In 2011, 3,695 people were reported medically killed, including 13 psychiatric patients, while 4,188 were euthanized in 2102, accounting for three percent of all Holland’s deaths that year.”

Brown wrote that, in 2012, Holland also began sending mobile death teams to the homes of people who want to die but whose doctors refuse to help them. And Belgium, if possible, is worse.

According to Brown:

“Originally, Belgium’s euthanasia law, passed in 2002, was meant for gravely ill adults suffering unbearable physical pain. Now, as mentioned, it includes those experiencing ‘unbearable psychological suffering.’ So relatively healthy people suffering mental stress or disorders are now being killed, among them a 44-year-old person who had undergone a failed sex change operation. So it is no wonder the number of euthanasia victims in Belgium has grown from 24 people in 2002 to 1,807 in 2013, an average of five per day and a 27 percent increase from 2012.”

Brown also reported that Belgium’s King Philippe signed a law last March allowing euthanasia for children of any age and dementia sufferers upon request. Last month, Belgium — a country without the death penalty — made headlines again when it granted a convicted murderer the right to die under the country’s euthanasia laws. Another 15 inmates have made the same request.

Could this happen in the United States? Could we have mobile death squads and legalized murder of babies born with birth defects? In a country that has aborted 55 million children in the last generation, and where “choice” is well on its way to becoming the new religion, it absolutely could. We are already headed that way.

Since Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act was passed 14 years ago, 1,100 people have asked for the lethal prescription, and two-thirds of them have ended their lives with it. Please pray with me that Maynard does not join that group and changes her mind about her date with death.

Life is always a good, even if it is cut tragically short by a disease we cannot control.

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One Response to “Glen Campbell and Brittany Maynard Face Their Mortality Very Differently”

  1. Ed Heigl says:

    “I choose Life” Running in Faith & on Chemo” The Ed Heigl Story

    You can either die of cancer or live with stage 4 cancer. I have chosen to live with it as each day is a gift from God no matter what. We are here on the Earth to make a difference and to return the gift of life and love back to our Creator to do otherwise is to lock our heats from the inside and to deny His Love which is our choice. The greatest tragedy of human existence is the failure to become a Saint through Gods, Love, Mercy and the Grace that he provides to us through His will and to do His work if we only listen and are open to His voice. When I was first diagnosed I felt like my life has been hit by a tornado. When it was all over, my wife Beth and I and our children were left with devastation that hit all parts of life: physical, emotional, financial, psychological and Spiritual. The illness has impacted all of my relationships. Some consider you a short timer and often even those close to you struggle on what to do or what to say. Every day with God’s help I have picked up the brokenness of my life since my cancer diagnosis. Every day is a gift and a new challenge and there is joy despite suffering and I choose Life. Ed Heigl

    Suffering only makes sense when we look at it through the eyes of faith. It is the unknown that is so difficult. For those of us who face death with intense suffering it is a very hard road. I see each day as a gift because of my faith. Our life does not belong to us & it is not ours to take.

    “Right to Try” A Right to Life Issue & Compassionate Care
    I have the “Right to Die” in some states because of my stage IV cancer (to take drugs that will kill me) but not the “Right to Try” to get access to drugs and treatments that could save my life. I should have the legal right to die trying if I wish or to live as there are people who are being cured with some of the clinical non-approved drugs and treatments now under trial studies.

    Ed Heigl (St. Louis, MO) at age 58 was named Life Runner Man of the Year for 2013. (Life Runners promote life and human dignity and currently have runners in 50 states and 20 foreign countries) Ed has stage 4 liver and colorectal cancers, yet he has run over 40 races in 2013. Ed is the only known cancer patient that runs long distance races, while wearing his chemo therapy pump. Ed is being treated at Siteman Cancer Center. He has helped raise thousands of dollars for cancer research and participated in the Pedal for the Cause, Light the Night, the Billiken 5k Cancer Center as a Grand Marshal and many other runs and events that help support others with this insidious illness as cancer knows no boundaries. Ed is supporting “Right to Try in Missouri”. He has been selected to receive the Saint Louis University Alumni Merit Life Time Achievement Award for 2014 from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Karen Fisk Award 2014.
    Ed Heigl runs and cycles to support cancer research at as a former elite Saint Louis University Billiken Student/Athlete 1975 to 1979 he has run over 100,000 miles in his lifetime, and in his prime closed in on the elusive 4-minute mile mark. What makes this accomplishment extraordinary is that he is fighting stage 4 cancer. In the past 30 months he has undergone over 44 chemotherapy cycles, eleven surgical procedures, and radiation therapy. Heigl also credits his running – along with nutrition and faith – among his weapons in the fight against cancer. “I run for life and for all who suffer from this terrible illness. My feet, toes, and fingers are numb from the chemo therapy treatments, yet I continue to run.” Ed has spoken before numerous groups about his illness.
    He has been featured by KSDK television and interviewed by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Life Styles Magazine, The St. Louis Review, STL Sports Page, SAJE, and the Rapid City Gazette. Ed has continued to work full time through his illness and treatments. Ed Heigl, his wife Beth and their 3 children reside in St. Louis Missouri.

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