"Death With Dignity" O.J. Brigance

"Death With Dignity" Act -- O.J. Brigance

Senate Bill 676: Oppose

Judicial Proceedings

Good afternoon Chairman Zirkin and the Judicial Proceedings committee. My name is O. J. Brigance and I am here in opposition to Senate Bill 676 to legalize physician assisted suicide.

I felt compelled to testify on this issue because eight years ago I received devastating news that I had ALS. I have personally faced the dilemma debated by the committee this afternoon, whether to live or die with dignity as the proponents of the Bill would call it. Following an accomplished professional athletic career, the thought of losing the ability to run, walk, talk and eventually to breathe on my own was an overbearing burden.

The prognosis for someone diagnosed with ALS is two to five years from onset. The consideration of the journey which lay before me and my wife was daunting, but once we grieved, we came to the decision that adverse circumstances in no way delete purpose or destiny in one's life. Have there been days where it has been challenging, of course. However, I did not create my life, so I have no right to negate my life.

Because I decided to live life the best I could, there has been a ripple effect of goodness in the world. In 2008, my wife and I created the Brigance Brigade Foundation to equip, encourage and empower those living valiantly with ALS. We have been able to assist families in their financial time of need.

With the use of no hands I was able to write a book two years ago. I can't tell you of the numerous people who have been encouraged through their own personal struggle because I decided to face my struggle against ALS. Since being diagnosed, I have done a greater good for society in eight years, than in my previous 37 years on earth.

I don't know how many days I have left to live, but each and every one has a purpose. The thought that there would be a legal avenue for an individual to take his or her own life in a moment of despair robbing family, friends and society of their presence and contribution to society deeply saddens me and is a tragedy.

This is why I request that each of you would vote to oppose Senate Bill 676. Every day, every hour, every minute, every second of life is God given and valuable. To enact this legislation would devalue the lives and possible future contributions of Marylanders. Thank you for the opportunity to address you all and have a productive afternoon.