Oregon man treks to Naples to advocate for Right to Die law

The heated legal debate over the right to is found its way to Southwest Florida on Wednesday where people from across the state gathered to bring a similar law here.

Looking at a photo of Brittany Maynard on her wedding day shows her pure bliss. But a second photo, showing a picture of her brain tumor that killed her two years later, is tragic.

Maynard’s husband, Dan Diaz, told WINK News he supported his wife’s decision to end her life in a way of her choice, which was with medical assistance.

“She was 29 years old and I held her in my arms as she died,” said Diaz, an End of Life Options advocate.

But that was not legal in the couple’s home state of California. So the pair went to Oregon.

“Each of us should be able to have that gentle dying process that Brittany was able to achieve,” Diaz said. “She was able to achieve that only because we moved 600 miles away.”

Maynard picked the day she wanted to die. When she passed, Diaz said, it was peacefully. Now, Diaz has taken up her fight to legalize medically assisted death nationwide. That fight brought him to Naples on Wednesday.

There are so many sides to this issue and all of them are emotional. The state legislature will not pass a right to die measure this year. But Diaz vows to continue coming back to Florida until our lawmakers pass one.

While polls show support for the controversial practice, Marilyn Golden, who works with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, worries people may not understand the impact such laws have.

“Financial and emotional pressures can also make people choose death, when it’s not really their choice,” Golden said. “When it’s a sense, a phony sense, of freedom.”

Golden is not alone in that concern. A number of national and statewide groups said the practice will target elderly and disabled people. Diaz does not see it that way.

“This piece of legislation does not result in more people dying,” Diaz said through tears. “It results in less people suffering.”

Reporter:Sydney Persing
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