November 3, 2014 / 9:15 PM / 5 years ago

Condolences pour in for family of Brittany Maynard after suicide

PORTLAND Ore. (Reuters) - Notes of support and condolences poured in for right-to-die campaigner Brittany Maynard on Monday, as news spread that the terminally ill 29-year-old had ended her life over the weekend.

Maynard, who was diagnosed in January with a brain tumor and had announced plans to take medication to die when her pain became unbearable, had become the face of the right-to-die movement ahead of her death this weekend.

The group Compassion & Choices, an Oregon-based nonprofit that assisted the young woman through her end of life, said on Sunday that she had passed away surrounded by friends and family.

“No one has the right to judge. You did what was best for you and your family,” Lynn Young of Massachusetts wrote on the online obituary page established by Maynard’s family.

Maynard and her husband moved from the San Francisco area to Oregon this year to take advantage of that state’s Death with Dignity Act, which allows terminally ill residents to end their lives with the assistance of a physician. Four U.S. states beside Oregon allow assisted suicide.

Maynard had previously told People magazine that she had picked Nov. 1 as the day she planned to die.

“So sad to depart at such a young age. But what a classy young lady who shed light on an issue that should be looked at more than it is,” Jacquie Launder of Alberta, Canada, wrote on the web page.

“As Jesus was compassionate for the sick, we should have compassion for those who want to make their own decisions regarding their end of life,” wrote Karen Haywood, a Virginia chaplain.

Slideshow (5 Images)

Maynard’s family declined to speak to the media on Monday and asked instead for contributions to the newly established Brittany Maynard Fund. Compassion and Choice said donations would go toward efforts to implement right-to-die laws across the nation.

“Compassion and Choices, a major assisted suicide advocacy group, has exploited the illness of Brittany Maynard to promote legalization of doctor prescribed suicide in the states,” Jennifer Popik, senior legislative council for the Washington, D.C.-based National Right to Life Committee, said on Monday.

“The states that have laws legalizing doctor prescribed suicide are turning their backs on vulnerable populations of people who are either depressed or worried about what their future holds,” Popik said.

Reporting by Courtney Sherwood; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Eric Walsh

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