PORTLAND, Ore., Nov. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Compassion & Choices today launched a national initiative for expanded access to death with dignity on what would be Brittany Maynard's 30th birthday. The organization released a new "call to action" video narrated by Brittany and featuring death-with-dignity activists from across the nation, including Anita Freeman of California, Sara Meyers of Connecticut and Dustin Hankinson of Montana (http://bit.ly/Bmaynard30). Brittany calls on all those touched by her story to contact their state lawmakers using an easy action tool at www.TheBrittanyFund.org, where the video will debut at 3pm ET (read full transcript here).
Response to Brittany's story, including from policymakers, proves the time is now to fix the nation's unjust end-of-life healthcare system. The New Jersey Assembly passed an aid-in-dying bill last Thursday, 12 days after her death. At least one lawmaker who decided to support the bill cited Brittany's story during the floor debate as a deciding factor: Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon. In her honor, legislators in California and at least 11 other states have pledged to introduce bills that authorize death with dignity. The other states include: Colorado, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-WY), who plans to introduce a death-with-dignity bill, and Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-PA), who introduced a death-with-dignity bill on Oct. 15 -- nine days after Brittany's story broke -- are among the lawmakers whom Brittany inspired. Rep. Rozzi's father died of brain cancer, as Brittany did.
"As we mark what would be her 30th birthday, we recall Brittany's selfless efforts to help ensure that other dying Americans get access to the death-with-dignity choice," said Barbara Coombs Lee, Compassion & Choices president and an attorney who co-authored Oregon's Death With Dignity Act, which Brittany Maynard utilized. "Brittany carried a torch of human freedom this far. We must carry it to the finish line. We ask supporters to use every communication channel to tell their lawmakers to support death with dignity."
"I hope for the sake of other American citizens all these people that I'm speaking to that I've never met, that I'll never meet, that this choice be extended to you, that this right. That we mobilize, that we vocalize, that we start to talk about it," says Brittany in the video, which was recorded Aug. 2.
"I know my family will continue to carry this torch along for me, that they all believe in the importance of what I'm doing," concluded Brittany in the video. "If there's one message to come away from everything that I've been through, it is no matter what life kind of presents you with, is never be afraid to use your own voice. And even if you are uncertain, even if your voice is shaking, ask the questions you want to ask, speak up for yourself, advocate."
A panel of experts, including Reps. Rozzi and Zwonitzer, discussed nationwide momentum to expand access for terminally ill adults to the medical practice of aid in dying during a national press conference call on Nov. 19.
Brittany's story is galvanizing Compassion & Choices campaigns in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Currently, only Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico authorize aid in dying.
CONTACT: Sean Crowley, 202.495.8520-c, [email protected]
SOURCE Compassion & Choices