How do we discuss a woman’s decision to die?

Perhaps it’s happened before, but I can’t recall an instance when we’ve all been asked to share the decision of a young woman to take her own life.

Brittany Maynard, a California native, found out recently that she has terminal brain cancer, so she and her family have moved to Oregon to take advantage of that state’s “Death with Dignity Act.” She’s announced via YouTube that she intends to die two days after her husband’s birthday in November.

In the few weeks she has left to live, KTLA reports, Maynard has decided to advocate on behalf of Compassion & Choices, which backs the expansion of “death with dignity laws.”

“I hope to enjoy however many days I have left on this beautiful Earth … the reason to consider life, and what’s of value, is to make sure you’re not missing out. Seize the day. What’s important to you, what do you care about, what matters. Pursue that. Forget the rest,” she said.

Chicago Now blogger Mary Tyler Mom knows the scenario.

Along with other family and paid caregivers, I provided care for my Mom in the nine months it took for her to die after that surgery. I bathed her and fed her and toileted her and brushed her dentures and washed her sheets and did everything a human body requires when it is paralyzed and no longer works as it was intended. These were loving acts that prepared me for motherhood and my own daughter’s brain tumor just two years later.

Whether or not my Mom would have wanted to exercise a more dignified death than the one she had is not a question I can engage in. That choice would have never been mine to make. And whether or not my daughter would have benefited from a death hastened and softened by medication is not a question I will engage in. That choice is too personal for public consumption.

But having seen two loved ones, my mother and my daughter, die from the effects of aggressive brain tumors, I know first hand what awaits Brittany Maynard. And with that intimate knowledge, I support her right to choose her time and circumstances of death. And let’s be clear, folks: Brittany Maynard is not choosing death. Death chose her. Brittany is exercising her right as a citizen of the state of Oregon to die with dignity. She wants every American to have access to that same right.