Death With Dignity Act takes social media spotlight

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By Chloe Nordquist By Chloe Nordquist
By Chloe Nordquist By Chloe Nordquist
By Chloe Nordquist By Chloe Nordquist
By Chloe Nordquist By Chloe Nordquist
By Chloe Nordquist By Chloe Nordquist

PHOENIX -- The Death With Dignity Act (DWDA) has been a hot topic recently following a 29-year-old newlywed's decision to die on her own terms.

Brittany Maynard was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer.
(Click here for Maynard's story)

She describes in a YouTube video that she feels comfort in knowing that she has the decision and will choose to end her life on her own terms Nov. 1.

However, in states like Arizona, the Death With Dignity Act doesn't exist.

Washington, Oregon and Vermont are the only states with a DWDA in place.

Montana and New Mexico have also had judges give rulings that allow doctors to prescribe these life-ending prescriptions.

"I suspect that Arizona is the type of state where if you see this it will most likely be something that's on the ballot, a lot like medical marijuana was dealt with," attorney Jonathan Frutkin said. "It's not something that our legislature has historically taken that kind of reigns on."

Fewer than 200 people take advantage of the law in Washington and Oregon, and the average age of those who do is 70. Most are highly educated and have health insurance, according to Frutkin.

DWDA prescriptions have been written for 1,173 people and 752 patients have died from taking medications prescribed under the DWDA, according to the most recent data.

Only a third of the respondents said they choose to take the medication because of pain.

"Nearly all of them said that the reason was because they were losing their autonomy, losing their dignity, and their losing their ability to enjoy things in their life at all," Frutkin said.

Maynard's YouTube video