Brittany Maynard’s mum blasts Vatican ‘slap in face’

The mother of a right-to-die advocate responded angrily to criticism from the Vatican of Brittany Maynard’s decision to end her life early under an Oregon law written to let terminally-ill patients die on their own terms.

Days after Ms Maynard’s November 1 death at age 29, the Vatican’s top bioethics official called her choice “reprehensible” and said physician-assisted suicide should be condemned.

Ms Maynard’s mother, Debbie Ziegler, issued a sharp written response, saying the comments from Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, came as the family was grieving and were “more than a slap in the face”.

Her response was made through Compassion & Choices, an advocacy group that Ms Maynard worked with in her last days.

Ms Maynard suffered from terminal brain cancer and in the spring was given six months to live. She moved to Oregon from Northern California with her husband and parents because Oregon allows terminally-ill patients to die using lethal medications prescribed by a doctor.

Pope Francis denounced the right-to-die movement on Saturday, saying euthanasia was a sin against God and creation. Thinking of euthanasia as an act of dignity provides a “false sense of compassion”, Francis said.

He didn’t refer specifically to Ms Maynard’s case. In the letter, Ziegler said: “My twenty-nine-year-old daughter’s choice to die gently rather than suffer physical and mental degradation and intense pain does not deserve to be labelled as reprehensible by strangers a continent away who do not know her or the particulars of her situation.”


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