O.J. Brigance Speaks Out Against PAS Legislation
Statement the Judicial Proceedings committee
Re: Senate Bill 354 – “End-Of-Life Option Act”
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Good afternoon Chairman Zirkin and distinguished members of the Judicial Proceedings committee.
My name is O. J. Brigance and I am submitting written testimony in opposition to Senate Bill 354, the End-Of-Life Option Act.
I am compelled to testify on this issue because 10 years ago I received devastating news that I had ALS. 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 2 to 5 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.
I had the privilege of testifying before this committee a couple of years ago about the impact of my choice to live has had on society. In 2008, my wife and I created the Brigance Brigade Foundation to equip, encourage and empower those living valiantly with ALS.
The Brigance Brigade Foundation experienced tremendous growth in 2016 serving 24 grantee families, and 60+ family connections and resource guidance discussions in the year. That does not include all of our conversations with referral sources. More than one family per week is reaching out to us on average, and not just from this region. My purpose for sharing this information is to show those families and many others may not have received assistance if I decided to not fight for my life, as well as others battling ALS.
With the use of no hands I was able to write a book 4 years ago. I speak to numerous groups reminding them that adverse circumstances don’t have to define who you are or who you can become. 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.
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 354. 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 blessed afternoon.