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Theologian Compares Brittany Maynard to 9-11’s “Falling Man”

By Katie Wingo

“Admittedly, I thought the matter was settled in my mind … Until Brittany I was absolutely, positively against the idea that [death with dignity] should be legal. However – and here’s another of Brittany’s accomplishments these past few weeks – I don’t feel the way I did a few weeks ago.”

That is an excerpt from a Time Magazine online op-ed, “Brittany Maynard Didn’t Commit Suicide (What we can learn from 9-11’s ‘Falling Man’),” authored by Benjamin L. Corey, a blog writer and speaker who holds a Master of Arts in Theology.

“Part of my shift has been because of the discussion and reasoning that came from Brittany herself, and part has been from some of the judgmental condemnation I’ve seen of Brittany online … However, the real shift in my thinking came from … watching a program about iconic photography from the terrorist attacks of 9-11.”

“On one hand, one could say these people took their own lives – that they committed suicide – but that wouldn’t really be fair, would it? NYC officials didn’t think so either, and had [those jumpers] deaths classified as homicide by blunt force trauma instead of suicide.”

“The Falling Man, and others like him, didn’t have a real choice to live or die – they only had a choice of which way they died … This is precisely why I’m losing my patience with my fellow Christians who are condemning Brittany Maynard for her decision to take the pills her doctor prescribed her.

“It seems disingenuous to force someone to choose between two ways of dying and then turn on them in judgment for picking the least painful of the two options.

“In all the years since 9-11, I’ve never once heard a Christian speak up in judgment and condemnation over the 9-11 jumpers … I’ve never heard anyone say that failing to condemn their choice is a ‘slippery slope that could send the message that suicide is ok.’

“Why then, should we say those things about Brittany – or those who choose to die more quickly and less painfully in response to terminal disease … ?”

Brittany’s mother, Debbie Ziegler, wrote that Benjamin Corey’s op-ed, published three days after her daughter’s death, gave her great comfort:

“The column was a big help to our family as we tried to grieve Brittany’s death, while at the same time reading many malicious things being written in the press and online. I am writing to Benjamin personally to thank him for helping to so clearly debunk the insensitive and incorrect use of the word ‘suicide’ with regard to Brittany’s death. My daughter did not commit suicide. Brain cancer killed Brittany, and Benjamin is right – it is very sad. Mr. Corey responded to Brittany’s cousin, Summer Holmes, who wrote him a heartfelt thank you.”

You can read the entire op-ed by clicking here.