Maynard's Mother Continues Fight for Right to Die

A Carlsbad mother said she is more committed than ever to continue the fight for an individual’s right to die, a journey started by her daughter, Brittany Maynard.

Maynard had a terminal brain tumor and moved to Oregon, where she could get medication to help her end her life. She died eight months ago at the age of 29.

Her mother, Deborah Ziegler, said it took her time to understand her daughter's wish to plan her own death. At first she was in denial, she told NBC 7 Thursday.

“When I look back on it, I think Brittany was a little girl, pulling her family behind her,” Ziegler said. “She already had this burden, and now she had to pull not only the burden that she carried, but she had to pull her mom and dad and various other family members along behind her.”

That perspective helps her understand why it is taking time for politicians to move forward on right to die legislation in California.

A bill stalled in an Assembly committee, due in large part to opposition from religious organizations that say allowing doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs is assisted suicide and goes against God's will. Similar legislation was defeated in 2007 against religious opposition.

Ziegler hopes politicians will be able to put aside their personal feelings and give those who are terminally ill the option.

“You’re not forcing anything on anyone. You’re just giving us an option and we, like you, can say no, and we can say that doesn’t fit my lifestyle,” said Ziegler. “But I’m not going to take it away from the seven people who say, ‘Yeah, I would like that option.’ And that’s what I’m waiting for.”

In the end, Ziegler said she realized that there is suffering that buys time, and then there is suffering that is meaningless. Her daughter was going to lose her hearing, sight and ability to talk before she would die.

Ziegler told NBC 7 that Maynard had to move to Oregon to avoid the meaningless suffering.

“Moving made things extra difficult. You leave your home, you leave your pets, you leave your friends, you leave your church, you leave your whole network,” said Ziegler.

The morning after she heard the legislation had been put on hold, Ziegler said she woke up more convicted about the issue.

Maynard’s voice is still in her head, she said, giving her instructions and saying thank you.

“I think she would say all that did not go in vain and for keeping the conversation alive,” Ziegler told NBC 7. “And she would tell me to stop crying.”

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