Maynard, 29, made headlines because she chose to die on Nov. 1 by taking a legal lethal prescription as she faced an aggressive cancerous brain tumor.
Kara Tippetts, 38, a Colorado Springs wife of a pastor and a mother of four who received a stage-four breast cancer diagnosis two years ago, has become the poster face of an opposite view. Her story was picked up and popularized by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, blogger Rod Dreher and World magazine, among other outlets. Her story went viral in many Christian circles, notes Bronwyn Lea in a piece for Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics.
“Her story of her own mundane faithfulness and Jesus’ abundant faithfulness to her in the midst of cancer drew hundreds of thousands in: readers choosing her words of reflection in tragedy over the entertainment of click-bait,” Lea wrote. “We are better off for it. We love more deeply. We are that much more aware, and grateful. We are, for a moment, aware that our opportunities to live and love are, as Ecclesiastes teaches us, short-lived. The merest breath.”
Tippetts wrote an open letter to Maynard on Ann Voskamp’s popular blog urging Maynard not to end her life. “Dear heart, we simply disagree,” Tippetts wrote. “Suffering is not the absence of goodness, it is not the absence of beauty, but perhaps it can be the place where true beauty can be known. In your choosing your own death, you are robbing those that love you with the such tenderness, the opportunity of meeting you in your last moments and extending you love in your last breaths.”
Tippetts was admitted into hospice care in December.
“My little body has grown tired of battle, and treatment is no longer helping,” she recently wrote. “But what I see, what I know, what I have is Jesus. He has still given me breath, and with it I pray I would live well and fade well.”
Jay Lyons, a producer who is a friend of the Tippetts family, raised $15,000 — more than his goal of $13,750 — to create a documentary about Tippetts.
End-of-life debates have surfaced in recent months. For instance, NPR host Diane Rehm has emerged as a key force in the end-of-life debates. Before her death in November, Maynard became an advocate for laws for legal protections for terminally ill patients who want to die with medical assistance. Physician-assisted suicide is legal in a handful of states.
“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,” Maynard wrote on Facebook before her death.
Americans are divided on the role of medicine in the issue, according to recent Pew Research surveys. When asked about end-of-life decisions for other people, two-thirds of Americans say there are at least some situations in which a patient should be allowed to die, while nearly a third say that medical professionals always should do everything possible to save a patient’s life. Of those polled, 47 percent approved and 49 percent disapproved of laws that would allow a physician to prescribe lethal doses of drugs for a terminally ill patient.
(This story has been updated.)
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