Eva Thompson (1959-2017): “It should be my choice”

We were deeply saddened to learn of the death today of Reverend Eva Thompson, a steadfast advocate for Death with Dignity legislation in Maine. She was 58 years old.

Eva did not live long enough to see the Maine Death with Dignity Act come to fruition.

During her four-year illness living with metastatic colon cancer, Eva worked with It’s My Death (now Maine Death with Dignity) and Death with Dignity National Center, sharing her story and educating Mainers and Maine state legislators about assisted dying.

Val Lovelace and Eva Thompson
Eva Thompson (right) with It’s My Death director Valerie Lovelace at the Maine State Legislature.

“There is nothing I can do about the situation I’m in,” Eva told us. “But it would be a huge relief to know that I have some control over how the ending goes. I will know when I have suffered enough. It should be my choice to die quickly and painlessly when I decide the time is right.”

Eva testified before the Maine Senate Health and Human Services Committee in April 2017 in support of LD 347, an Act to Support Death with Dignity. After the state Senate passed the bill and the House voted it down, Eva continued her advocacy, even as she knew she likely would not live to see Death with Dignity legalized in Maine.

An interfaith community minister, artist, green burial enthusiast, and proud grandmother, Eva remained active in her final months and always made clear that she wanted to live as long as she could.

“I have a happy life, I am not at all depressed; I want to be here,” Eva said in a 2017 video for Death with Dignity National Center. “If pain is being controlled, and if I still have independence, and my quality of life is still good, then I’ll keep fighting.”

For Eva, assisted dying was a matter of liberty. “For me it comes down to personal rights and freedom,” she said. “You might have views on this from a religious standpoint, from a political standpoint, but until you’re the person dying, I don’t think you can appreciate fully how important it is to have control over how the end goes.”

“The way Eva walked through this world was an inspiration to many,” said Valerie Lovelace, the founder and executive director of It’s My Death.

Eva Thompson

Eva’s advocacy and her ability to articulate the importance of Death with Dignity with courage and grace has inspired Maine Death with Dignity and we will carry her legacy forward to ensure that one day soon, all terminally ill Mainers will have the right to decide how they die.