Brittany Maynard Featured in New Ad for Right-to-Die Initiative in Colorado: I'm 'Keeping My Promise to Honor Her,' Says Husband
"This is part of me keeping my promise to [Brittany,] says Maynard's husband, Dan Diaz, of the new ad
Right-to-die supporters in Colorado Monday launched a new ad featuring Brittany Maynard,, the 29-year-old woman who ended her own life in November 2014 after moving to Oregon to access its “Death with Dignity Act.”
Under the proposal, two physicians must agree that an adult is terminally ill, has six months or less to live and is mentally competent. It also requires that the person self-administer the drug.
The ad also features Dan Diaz, Maynard’s husband, who is in Colorado to lobby for the initiative this week. While Compassion & Choices has released several videos featuring Maynard, this is the first time her words have been used in an ad.
“Before Brittany died she made it clear to me that’s exactly what she left me with – the control of being able to use her story and her message to make an impact and bring about change,” Diaz, 43, tells PEOPLE.
“We talked extensively about how and the circumstances of sharing her story in order to make a difference, so this is part of me keeping my promise to honor her – to honor her instructions to bring about this change,” he says.
Holly Armstrong, spokeswoman for Say Yes, says the group is grateful to Diaz for allowing them to use Maynard’s words to help their campaign.
“Sharing personal experiences helps voters understand that the process is safe, a rarely used option and deeply personal,” she tells PEOPLE.
She says they will spend millions on the ad buy, much of it donated by Compassion & Choices Action Fund, the end-of-life choice group Maynard partnered with before her death.
“Having been close to death due to the same form of brain cancer as Brittany, I can empathize with her story,” J.J. Hanson, president of the Patients Rights Action Fund, which also opposes the measure, tells PEOPLE. “However, this law does not solve the issues terminal patients have at the end of life.
“There have been many problems as a result of this dangerous legislation in Oregon,” he says. “I oppose 106 because the legalization of assisted suicide will lead to the deaths of the most vulnerable members of our society. Our focus should be on aid in living and not aid in dying.”
If Coloradoans approve the measure, the state would become the sixth to permit aid in dying. Lawmakers have introduced similar bills in 25 states since her death.
Maynard, who had terminal brain cancer, quickly became the face of the controversial right-to-die movement after she launched her online campaign on Oct. 6, 2014 with the release of a powerful 8-minute video and an exclusive interview with PEOPLE where she revealed she intended to end her own life with medication prescribed by her doctor on November 1.
“There is not a cell in my body that is suicidal or that wants to die,” she told PEOPLE. “I want to live. I wish there was a cure for my disease but there’s not.”
She did very few media interviews afterward. The clip used in the new ad is from a CBS segment that aired Oct. 14, 2014, where she also emphasized that she was not suicidal.
“Cancer is ending my life,” she said. “I am choosing to end it in a lot less pain and suffering.”
Diaz was deeply involved with the ad’s production, including deciding which footage of his late wife to use, which he admits was an “emotional” experience.
“It’s like I’m sharing Brittany and her story again with everyone, but if it’s what’s going to make the difference then it’s why Brittany spoke up – to make that difference – so I’m seeing it through,” he says.
He also wrote a blog post introducing the ad to Colorado voters.
Diaz quit his full-time job in July 2015 in order to become a paid consultant for Compassion & Choices. Since then he’s traveled around the country lobbying for the law.