Husband of Brittany Maynard speaks in favor of ‘death with dignity’ laws in Utah

Posted at 5:57 PM, Jun 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-15 19:57:30-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Less than six months after getting married, Dan Diaz found out his 29-year-old wife, Brittany Maynard, was going to die.

"We were in the process of trying for a family when we found out she had this brain tumor," Diaz said.

Ten months later, she did die, but not before living her life to the fullest.

"For Brittany, the focus was life, living it," Diaz said.

Knowing the end was near, Brittany and Dan decided to move from California to Oregon so she could take advantage of their death with dignity law.

"By Brittany having this medication, Brittany all of the sudden was emboldened to fight even more because she didn’t have to be terrified," Diaz said.

When the fight became too painful, she took the medication and passed away peacefully, but not before asking her husband to make her a promise.

"That is the promise I made to Brittany, to share her story so that nobody else would have to go through leaving their home like we did," Diaz said.

On Wednesday, Diaz spoke to Utah legislators about his experience. Among them was Representative Michael Kennedy, a doctor who worries about the unintended consequences of passing a similar law in Utah.

"At some point, the sanctity of life is in direct competition when somebody is choosing to use their self-autonomy to move forward in a way that may threaten their own life," Kennedy said.

Despite resistance from lawmakers like Kennedy, the bill's sponsor, Rebecca Chavez-Houck, is not giving up.

"Their disease is what's killing them, and all this does is allow them to have a peaceful passing after they’ve been able to live their life at their fullest," Chavez-Houck said.

Diaz also plans on keeping his promise to Brittany.

Chavez-Houck is hopeful after hearing from people like Diaz that she will be able to pass her bill with a majority vote out of the interim committee, which will give it leverage in the next legislative session.