Oct 30, 2014 3:49 PM

Terminally ill woman may postpone taking her life

The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) A terminally ill woman who expects to take her own life under Oregon's assisted-suicide law says she is feeling well enough to possibly postpone the day she had planned to die.

Brittany Maynard said in early October she expected to kill herself Nov. 1, less than three weeks before her 30th birthday. She emphasized that she wasn't suicidal, but wanted to die on her own terms and reserved the right to move the date forward or push it back.

While she hasn't completely ruled Saturday out, Maynard says in a new video she feels she has some more of her life to live.

"I still feel good enough, and I still have enough joy and I still laugh and smile with my friends and my family enough that it doesn't seem like the right time right now," she says in the video.

"But it will come because I feel myself getting sicker. It's happening each week."

Maynard said she was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer earlier this year. Because her home state of California does not have an aid-in-dying law, she moved to Portland and has become an advocate for getting such laws passed in other states.

Maynard's story, accompanied by photos from her pre-illness wedding day, broke hearts across the globe while igniting a national debate on the issue of physician-assisted suicide.

One opponent is Philip Johnson, a 30-year-old Catholic seminarian from the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina. He, like Maynard, has inoperable brain cancer and is plagued by headaches and seizures.

After learning of learning of Maynard's choice, he wrote an article explaining his view that "suffering is not worthless," and it's up to God to take life.

"There is a card on Brittany's website asking for signatures 'to support her bravery in this very tough time,'" Johnson wrote on the diocese website. "I agree that her time is tough, but her decision is anything but brave. I do feel for her and understand her difficult situation, but no diagnosis warrants suicide."

Oregon was the first U.S. state to make it legal for a doctor to prescribe a life-ending drug to a terminally ill patient of sound mind who makes the request. The patient must swallow the drug without help; it is illegal for a doctor to administer it.

Oregon voters approved the Death with Dignity Act in 1994, then reaffirmed it 60 percent to 40 percent in 1997. It took more than a decade for another state to join Oregon, but four other states now have such laws.

More than 750 people in Oregon used the law to die as of Dec. 31, 2013, most of them elderly.


Follow Steven DuBois at twitter.com/pdxdub


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