TIME Laws

New Video Released for Right-to-Die Advocate Brittany Maynard’s 30th Birthday

Maynard, who died Nov. 1, became the face of the right-to-die movement

A new video released by supporters of the so-called Death With Dignity movement shows Brittany Maynard, on what would’ve been her 30th birthday, advocating for expanded right-to-die legislation around the United States.

The advocacy group Compassion & Choices has released the video, made in August, nearly three weeks after she died Nov. 1. Maynard had moved from California to Oregon in order to take advantage of a state law that allows terminally ill patients to obtain life-ending medication. Diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, she quickly became the face of the right-to-die movement, releasing several videos that advocated for more states to legalize the practice.

MORE: Brittany Maynard Could Revive the Stalled ‘Death With Dignity’ Movement

Only five states currently allow physicians to give drugs to people who have terminal illnesses. In the last few weeks, lawmakers have drafted or advanced right-to-die legislation in Colorado, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

TIME Farming

Monsanto Reaches $2.4M Settlement With U.S. Wheat Farmers

Wheat
Sean Gallup—Getty Images

In settling, the firm said it was seeking to avoid a protected legal battle

Monsanto agreed Wednesday to pay almost $2.4 million to settle a lawsuit filed by U.S. wheat farmers, after a genetically modified strain of the grain was found in an Oregon field and spooked importers of American wheat.

No genetically engineered wheat has been approved in the U.S., but in 2013 wheat matching a strain of an experimental type developed and tested by Monsanto a decade earlier was found growing in a field in Oregon, the Associated Press reports. The modified wheat was not approved by federal regulators, and the seed juggernaut had said it had destroyed the crop.

A government report judged the incident to be an isolated case, but it did not conclude how the errant wheat had come to be in the field. Nations wary of genetically modified crops were alarmed: Japan and South Korea briefly stopped importing American wheat, and American farmers cried foul over the damage done to their revenues and reputations.

The St. Louis–based company’s settlement includes giving $2.1 million to farmers in the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho who sold soft white wheat between May 30 and Nov. 30 of 2013, as well as paying $250,000 to multiple wheat growers’ associations.

[AP]

TIME Crime

Body Found After Mom Threw Son in Oregon’s Yaquina Bay

Jillian Meredith McCabe Newport Police Dept.

She was subsequently arrested for aggravated murder, murder and 1st degree manslaughter

The body of a 6-year-old boy was found in Oregon’s Yaquina Bay after his mother called cops to say she’d thrown her son off a bridge, officials said early Tuesday. Police said that Jillian Meredith McCabe, 34, of Seal Rock, Oregon, had been arrested for the murder of her son London.

An Oregon woman by the same name penned an appeal for funding to help take care of her autistic son London and multiple sclerosis-stricken husband Matt. A mugshot released by police matched social-media posts showing the wife of a Matt McCabe and their son.

Authorities mounted an extensive search, with…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Culture

See Which States Allow Assisted Suicide

Brittany Maynard was one of hundreds of people in five states who've taken advantage of death with dignity laws

Few issues are more personal—or divisive—than ending a life with a doctor’s lethal prescription.

The issue has sparked national debate recently, after Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman who had terminal brain cancer, went public with her decision to end her own life. She did so on Saturday in Oregon.

Maynard is one of more than 750 people in Oregon who have ingested a lethal dose of prescription medication since the Death with Dignity Act went into effect in 1997. While Oregon has had increased participation over the last 16 years and has spurred similar legislation in other states, aid-in-dying laws remain a lightning rod of contention and deliberation.

Advocates say competent patients should have a right to choose how they die if they are already in the process of dying from a terminal illness. Opponents counter that such a precedent is ripe for abuse.

The battle has been shaped over many years. In the 1990s, Jack Kevorkian assisted in the deaths of more than a hundred terminally ill people to much public outcry. In 2009, politicians sparred over a provision in the Affordable Care Act concerning end-of-life consultations – called “death panels” by critics – to help control health-care costs. (Roughly 28%, or $170 billion, of Medicare is spent on patients’ last six months of life, according to Medicare Newsgroup.)

Here is how aid-in-dying laws look today, and a snapshot of the ways in which they are implemented:

dignity
Sources: Oregon Health Authority; CompassionandChoices.org; NotDeadYet.org; New York Times

TIME Laws

Brittany Maynard Could Revive the Stalled ‘Death With Dignity’ Movement

"In a way, the Death with Dignity movement has been waiting years for someone like Brittany Maynard"

Long before the world knew of Brittany Maynard’s wrenching decision to end her own life Saturday at 29 rather than continue treatment for terminal brain cancer, Eli Stutsman, an Oregon lawyer, began meeting with a group of physicians and businesspeople in Portland who shared his belief that the terminally ill should be able to decide how and when to die. The group started small, meeting first in public libraries, then graduating to a church and eventually a small office space. By 1993, they hammered out what would become the state’s Death With Dignity law, the first in the United States to give people with months to live the right to access lethal medication.

Then, as now, it was a polarizing idea. Earlier efforts to pass similar measures had failed in California and Washington.

“We were being hit with these overheated arguments, mostly from the Catholic Church,” Stutsman says when his group first went public with their proposed legislation. “It felt like we had made a horrible career mistake.”

But a grassroots campaign and lobbying effort built enough support, and in 1994 the bill Stutsman co-wrote passed the Oregon legislature. It took effect three years later, after an appeals court lifted a federal injunction prompted by legal challenges that the law violated the Constitution’s First and Fourteenth Amendments. For the next decade, where a candidate stood on the Death with Dignity law became a crucial litmus test in Oregon politics.

The culture wars have since moved on. “Those days are long gone,” Stutsman says. “It’s not an issue in campaigns. There was a time when it was a big issue, but all of that has settled down.”

As the controversy faded, so did momentum for similar laws around the country. Oregon is one of only three states that allow aid in dying, which generally lets doctors prescribe drugs to terminally ill patients who are deemed mentally competent. In the 17 years since the law took effect, almost 1,200 people have used it to obtain medication to end their own life, according to the Oregon Public Health Division. About 750 have actually taken the medication.

Washington passed an end-of-life law in 2008 modeled after Oregon’s legislation, and Vermont did the same in 2013. The matter is fuzzier in two other states. Montana’s Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that state law does not prohibit end-of-life care, while a district court judge in New Mexico ruled earlier this year that terminally ill residents who are mentally competent have a constitutional right to prescribed end-of-life drugs. That decision is under appeal.

But the debate was revived by Maynard, a 29-year-old newlywed who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in April and decided to move from California to Oregon to take advantage of the state’s Death With Dignity law. She went through with it Saturday, and news broke Sunday after publication of this article.

“Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love,” she wrote on Facebook before dying. “Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more. The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type. … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”

In a way, the Death with Dignity movement has been waiting years for someone like Maynard. In the public imagination, the person most often associated with aid-in-dying is Jack Kevorkian, the late Michigan physician who was known as Dr. Death. Kevorkian claimed to have helped more than 100 people end their own lives through “physician-assisted suicide” (a term disliked by the death with dignity supporters), and he was eventually convicted of second-degree murder of one of his patients. Kevorkian raised Americans’ awareness of the issue, but not in the way many of its supporters had hoped.

Maynard may have been Kevorkian’s polar opposite: a young, sunny schoolteacher who should have had far more of life ahead than behind. Her story has resonated much more than those of most patients who utilize aid-in-dying laws, who tend to be in their 70s. More than nine million people have viewed a video of her describing her illness and talking about her recent wedding, how much she will miss her beloved dogs, and all of the things she wanted to do before she dies.

“Brittany Maynard is transformative for our movement,” says Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit organization that supports aid in dying. “I’ve never felt this energy or seen this level of engagement in any of our campaigns.”

Surveys show that Americans support having choice at the end of their life if they’re suffering from an incurable disease. Gallup polls have consistently found that about 7 in 10 Americans support doctors who help bring about “some painless means if the patient and his or her family request it.” Support may be waning, though it remains high. In a November 2013 Pew survey, 66% of respondents said that there are circumstances in which a patient should sometimes be allowed die, down from 73% in 1990. Meanwhile, 31% said medical staff should always do everything possible to save a patient, up from 15% in 1990.

Despite popular support, aid-in-dying has stalled in statehouses and on ballots around the country. It’s not exactly a galvanizing political issue, and the Catholic Church has staunchly opposed the measures that do find their way to a vote.

“Our opponent is well-organized and well-funded,” Stutsman says. “You could put this issue on the ballot anywhere in the country, and if there were no political campaigns organized around the issue, it would pass in every state. But if you look at where the money comes from and the political expertise and organization, it’s always the Catholic Church.”

The most recent battleground was Massachusetts. In 2012, the state included a Death With Dignity law on the ballot, and several polls showed what most national numbers indicate: about 60% of people in Massachusetts supported it, and many political observers predicted that the heavily Catholic state would actually vote it into law. But the measure failed, 51% to 49%. Of the $5 million spent to defeat it, about $4 million came from the Catholic Church or individuals with ties to the church.

“We think fundamentally that these laws institutionalize an injustice in which society decides some people’s lives are not worth protecting as others,” says Richard Doerflinger, associate director of pro-life activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Church sees the issue of a piece with suicide and abortion, all of which it opposes out of adherence to the commandment Thou Shalt Not Kill. Doerflinger says that even though surveys often show a majority of Americans and even Catholics say they favor of end-of-life legislation, many can’t bring themselves to vote for legalizing the practice.

It’s too soon to know the effect of Maynard’s heartrending story. Death with Dignity legislation is pending in Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and a measure may be introduced in Colorado in January. Supporters are optimistic that the young teacher’s ordeal may be enough to tip the balance their way.

“She brings it home to people in a way that hasn’t been brought home to them,” says Lee of Compassion & Choices. “So far, because it hasn’t been front and center and people have not had the awareness and the motivation to become activist about it, politicians have been able to ignore it. But I think they won’t be able to ignore it anymore.”

dignity

Read next: Terminally Ill Woman Who Planned Assisted Suicide Dies

TIME Health Care

Terminally Ill Brittany Maynard May Not End Her Life, After All

Death With Dignity Advocate
This undated file photo provided by the Maynard family shows Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old terminally ill woman who plans to take her own life under Oregon’s death with dignity law. AP

The 29-year-old woman, who was diagnosed with brain cancer, explains her state of mind two days before her scheduled death

A terminally ill 29-year-old woman who has said she plans to commit physician-assisted suicide on Nov. 1 implies in a heart-wrenching new video that she may not go through with it in the end.

In the six-minute clip, released with advocacy group Compassion & Choices, Brittany Maynard says she may or may not choose to die on that date, People reports.

“So if Nov. 2 comes along and I’ve passed, I hope my family is still proud of me and the choices I made,” says Maynard, who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and given six months to live last spring.

Read more at People

Read next: Dear Brittany Maynard: Our Lives Are Worth Living, Even With Brain Cancer

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 23

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. A “13th year” of public education combines the supportive environment of high school with the first year of community college — and more students are staying enrolled.

By Rebecca Schuman in Slate

2. Imagine drones as solar-powered and mobile cell towers delivering connectivity to underserved areas.

By Adele Peters in Co.Exist

3. Large employers offering employees at-home solar power at a deep discount could help scale and create demand for this critical renewable resource.

By Diane Cardwell in the New York Times

4. If “democracy” is intended to work for everyone, not just the political class in America, it’s clearly failing.

By Clive Crook in Bloomberg View

5. With each success, new community partnerships exercise greater strength, building civic confidence to solve persistent regional problems.

By Monique Miles in the Aspen Journal of Ideas

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Physician Assisted Suicide

Why a Young Woman with Brain Cancer Moved to Oregon to Die

The story behind Oregon's controversial Death With Dignity Act

A 29-year-old woman with terminal brain cancer has moved to Oregon to be able to legally take her own life when she’s ready. Brittany Maynard has made a video explaining her plight and promoting what’s called the “death with dignity” movement. Diagnosed with a rapidly growing brain tumor, Maynard says she faces a debilitating, painful and certain death. Hence, she decided to forego additional radiation treatments and take advantage of laws in Oregon that would allow her to choose the time and circumstances of her death. Oregon has been a pioneer in allowing doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of anesthetics for people who have incurable diseases and would like to take charge of when they go, but the legislation is not without controversy.

The Death With Dignity Act was passed in 1994. It allows doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of painkillers to patients who request it in writing. The patients can’t just be anyone however; two doctors have to certify that they are likely to be dead in six months. They have to be deemed to be mentally healthy and not depressed, or at least not suffering from more than the regular, to-be-expected sadness about dying. They have to be residents of Oregon and two people have to witness the writing of the request, at least one of whom cannot be a beneficiary of their estate.

If all these criteria are met, and the mandatory 15-day waiting time has passed, a doctor is legally allowed to write a prescription, which the patient then fills and takes the medication whenever he or she sees fit. Opponents of the legislation argue that once the drugs are in the house, there’s little oversight. If the patient changes his or her mind, but then becomes debilitated, there’s not much technically to stop a relative or carer giving them the drugs anyway. Some medical practitioners, including the Royal College of Surgeons, argue that it’s always wrong for a doctor to deliberately cause death, no matter how much thought has gone into the decision.

One of the 700-plus Oregonians who have availed themselves of this exit plan was Dr. Peter Goodwin, who was instrumental in helping to write the legislation and push for its passage. He issued three such prescriptions for terminally patients after the legislation passed and admitted to writing at least one before it was legal. In an emotional video interview with Time in March 2012, he explained the difference between suicide and doctor-assisted death: “If you think of a typical suicide, it’s impulsive, it’s often violent, and it’s almost always in seclusion. This is a process done with the support of the family, after a great deal of consideration. And it’s a gentle death.”

By the time the interview appeared in the magazine a few days later, he was already dead.

 

TIME society

Portland Plans Tiny Houses for the Homeless

Homeless in the Pearl
A person walks by the Right 2 Dream Too homeless camp in Portland, Ore. on Oct. 4, 2013. Don Ryan—AP

Designed to give residents greater privacy and independence than traditional shelters, the micro homes may persuade people who currently live in Portland's "tent cities" to relocate to the sturdier structures

With an estimated 2,000 of its residents sleeping under bridges, on streets and in empty lots in a variety of makeshift shelters, the city of Portland, Oregon, is on a quest to provide more safe housing for those without a permanent address. Thinking beyond typical dorm-style shelters, it has launched a task force that will meet September 4th “to assess the viability of using tiny homes as a potential for housing houseless people,” says Josh Alpert, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Mayor Charlie Hales. Alpert hopes the first batch of homes will be ready for occupancy by late February 2015.

The mayor’s office began looking into the idea of micro homes in June after housing advocate Michael Withey presented an idea to the city council based on designs by architecture firm TechDwell. Alpert says he envisions a pilot program in which up to ten structures are erected on four separate city-owned lots. The idea is to establish the micro communities in various neighborhoods “so that no one area is feeling overburdened,” Alpert adds.

TechDwell

The tiny houses will be selected through a request-for-proposals process and will hinge on two key factors: cost and the ability to meet city and county building codes. Tim Cornell of TechDwell, who has already met with Alpert to discuss his prototype, says he can deliver micro homes that sleep two people and have bathrooms and kitchens built-in for $20,000 each. His FlexDwell prototype (shown at right) measures 16 feet wide and 12 feet deep and features a sloped ceiling that is 12-ft. high in front. Made of prefab materials available at Home Depot and Lowe’s, it includes two sleeping pods joined by a kitchen, bathroom and eating area. To save space, the bathroom shares a sink with the kitchen. “We could have them built on-site in 45 days” after an order is placed, Cornell says.

Because the tiny houses offer dwellers more privacy than big shelters, they may appeal to people who are reluctant to give up the sense of independence that comes from living on the street. The micro homes could also be cheaper than temporary emergency shelters, which cost up to $16,000 a year and lack plumbing.

“If there is a potential to get even one person off the streets, it’s worth trying,” says Alpert. “Simply having a roof over their head may enable them to springboard into finding a job.”

TIME space

See What the Raging Pacific Northwest Fires Look Like From Space

NASA

In a photo taken from the International Space Station, smoke blankets a large swath of the western United States

Wildfires across the Pacific Northwest have been blazing since Monday and have scorched large areas of forest as a result of hot, dry weather in Oregon and Washington. A total of 25 large, uncontained wildfires have burned hundreds of thousands of acres, with the single largest affected region in eastern Oregon’s Malheur County where about 369,000 acres of land has been burned. Incredibly, you can see smoke rising above the region from outer space. Reid Wiseman, an astronaut on the International Space Station, posted this photo on his Twitter feed.

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