A Vatican official has described the assisted suicide of a woman suffering from terminal brain cancer as “reprehensible”.
Newlywed Brittany Maynard died on Saturday, having moved from California to Oregon in order to end her life on her own terms.
The 29-year-old was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour (glioblastoma) in April, just months after getting married.
“My glioblastoma is going to kill me, and that’s out of my control. I’ve discussed with many experts how I would die from it, and it’s a terrible, terrible way to die. Being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying,” she told People magazine in October.
But Vatican bioethics official Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, had criticised her decision, telling the ANSA news agency: “Dignity is something other than putting an end to one’s own life.”
He added: “Brittany Maynard’s act is in itself reprehensible, but what happened in the consciousness we do not know.”
He cautioned that he was not judging individuals "but the gesture in and of itself should be condemned."
A board member of the Oregon-based advocacy group Compassion & Choices, Rev. Dr. Ignacio Castuera, responded that Maynard was not Catholic and it would be wrong to impose a set of religious beliefs on people who do not share them.
Maynard had become the face of the Die with Dignity movement after posting a video online explaining why she wanted to end her own life.
She posted a goodbye message on Facebook before taking aid-in-dying medication prescribed by her doctor.
The message said: "Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more," she wrote.
"The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!"
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