In debate over dying, decency takes a back seat

It was outrageous enough last weekend when a local man took to Twitter to belittle Aaron and Nora Purmort, who have chronicled Aaron’s living with a brain tumor with “otherworldly grace,” as one supporter accurately said.

But that was nothing compared to what Life News did yesterday afternoon, using Aaron’s coming death in its ongoing judgment of Brittany Maynard, who chose to end her own life because of her own brian tumor.


Nobody should get to hijack a person’s death.

The Purmorts, it must be noted, fully supported Maynard’s choice to end her life on her own terms.

Meanwhile, people who have nothing to gain by showing a little decency, continue to show a lot of it.

Update 11/26/14 – Aaron Purmort died on Thursday afternoon.

  • stevenertelt

    Nowhere in the article is Brittany Maynard condemned or judged. The article merely celebrates and honors one person’s decision in how to handle a tragic situation of dealing with the same cancer situation as Maynard, whose death rekindled the assisted suicide debate.

    • Context is everything. Let’s review some of Life News’ stories celebrating all of these people:

      Man Was Given Six Months to Live Just Like Brittany Maynard,

      Man With Brain Cancer a Contrast to Brittany Maynard: “I’m Fighting to My Last Breath”

      Woman With Same Brain Cancer as Brittany Maynard: Please

      My Mom Has the Same Brain Cancer Diagnosis as Brittany

      I’m sorry, but this isn’t about any of those people; it’s about Brittany.

      And before you use someone for your agenda, you should at least ask the dying person if it’s OK.

      • Jerry

        I don’t see why. They, and Brittany Maynard, are public figures. They seem to have chosen to be public figures. They have every right to meet their end as they choose, but people also have the right to discuss those choices.

        • BReynolds33

          The right to do something, and not being a human POS by doing so, are not mutually exclusive. Sure, people have the right to debate and discuss anything they want. That doesn’t mean it isn’t tacky as hell.

          Also, Nora and Aaron never asked to be “public figures.” They simply told their story, and due to the fact that they are amazing people, the story is riveting, and they are connected personally and professionally to a lot of people, the story became a “public” one.

          If I were to ask Nora right now, the answer she would want you to get here is… I hope you never have to find out how wrong you are on this topic.

          • Dave

            Well, it looks like you didn’t need to try and speak for Nora, as she already spoke for herself more eloquently than you could ever hope to. Thanks and bye.

          • Jerry

            My comment was not meant to be critical of Nora. My comment was all not meant to indicate I agreed with Life News’ actions. My comment was meant to indicate I was in favor of free discussion

        • noraborealis

          Hi Jerry and Steve,

          Let me put you in our shoes for a second. My husband has been sick for 3 years. My blog was a way of processing this, not a way to make a statement on assisted suicide. This pro-life organization co-opted our story (and copy/pasted copyrighted material) to support their own agenda, using my husband’s dying process to make a (thinly veiled) stab at a dead woman, whose family is feeling the same things I am.

          The title itself is clickbait, designed to use our family photo to drive pageviews on their website and engagement on their Facebook page.

          If they’d spoken to us, and I’d have likely obliged, they’d know that we wished Brittany all the best as she took her journey towards the other side. She made one choice. We made another, but with no commentary on hers.

          If you are on the Internet – and you both are – I suppose you are a public figure, but I hope you never step away from your spouse’s deathbed to see your family photo used on a website that doesn’t align with your own views. After all, guys, it can happen. But that doesn’t make it right.

          I sent a quite decent and polite message to this organization to see if they could change the title. They blocked me. They blocked me for having an opinion on how my family’s story is portrayed.

          If ethically you don’t have a problem with this, okay, but I’d hope as a human to another human you’d be able to see where I’m coming from.


    • This was clearly a (thinly) veiled stab at Brittany Maynard, and not one you can spin (as you are attempting to do) by saying “oh, but they didn’t _exactly_ say that”. An attack is an attack, and it’s gross.

    • Dave

      “whose death rekindled the assisted suicide debate”

      Maybe that was the point.

      • BReynolds33

        What was the point? The point of Brittany’s choice was to end her life on her terms. That was the only point. That it sparked a debate around assisted suicide is for the rest of us to live with, and reconcile ourselves against. She didn’t decide to end her life to prove a point.

        • DJ Wambeke

          She knowingly allowed Compassion & Choices to use her story in their advocacy. That’s not simply “ending her life on her terms.”

          • Of course it is. She had the luxury of choice and that’s what she chose in order to define the meaning of her death.

          • DJ Wambeke

            No. If she simply would have moved to Oregon and made her choice under the supervision of her doctor and within the privacy of her family/friends you’d have a point. But she first consented to have her story trumpeted by an advocacy group.

          • BReynolds33

            So, because she made a choice to allow a group to tell her story, that changes why she did it? I wish I could see the world in as stark a black and white contrast as you seem to.

          • BReynolds33

            Yes, yes it is. Using her story without her permission would have been to do it outside of her terms. This is a choice she gets to make. You don’t get to decide for her what it means.

          • DJ Wambeke

            I’m not deciding for her what it means. I’m only suggesting that your statement “That was the only point.” is untrue. Her decision to kill herself may have been for the purpose of ending life on her terms, but her separate decision to allow C&C to use her story had a second purpose: to prompt the debate along so that more states would allow assisted suicide. She herself said that if California had it she wouldn’t have had to move.

          • BReynolds33

            Again, you’re putting it in black and white terms. It doesn’t work like that. She made a decision to end her life, rather than suffer. A group asked to tell her story, and she allowed them to. This does not change why she made the choice, nor does it change that the sole purpose of her choice was simply to die on her own terms.

            You line of thinking is the same as saying I chose to buy a house, but when a group asked if they could tell others I bought a house, that means I bought a house to start a debate about buying houses. The logic fails very quickly.

          • DJ Wambeke

            I’m not saying she killed herself to start a debate. I am saying that, before she died, she made a separate, and conscious, decision to participate in that public debate by using her death as a rhetorical weapon in that debate. Google her CNN opinion piece entitled “My Right to Die With Dignity at 29”, among others.

        • Dave

          Perhaps the reason she went public (and it became a big story) was so that we could have the conversation. That’s what it seemed like to me anyway.

          • BReynolds33

            What it “seemed like” to you, and what it was, are two completely different things. Just know that.

  • Jim G

    My wife’s first husband also had a choice to make. He chose to aggressively fight the cancer with multiple surgeries and chemo therapy treatment. After being diagnosed and given six months to live, he died of this same type of brain cancer in October of 1998. The days he gained were few… only two more months. However, his struggle to stay alive was shared by his wife and two children as they cared for him during his gradual but inevitable demise. As he weakened their relationship grew stronger. Their story continued to grow even after he died on a sunny October Saturday.

  • Matt

    Click-bait headlines are a pox upon the internet. Life News’s hed is most recent example.