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Brittany Maynard, terminally ill advocate for death aids, dies at 29

Brittany Maynard dies at 29. She spent her last few months advocating for physician assisted suicide.

A young woman who moved to Oregon to take advantage of the state's assisted-suicide law took lethal drugs prescribed by a doctor and has died, a spokesman said Sunday.

Brittany Maynard, a terminally ill woman who made headlines when she moved to Oregon so she could legally take her own life, died Saturday after consuming life-ending medication, according to Sean Crowley, spokesman for a nonprofit who worked closely with Maynard's family.

She passed away in her bedroom surrounded by loved ones in her home in Portland, Ore., according to a release.

Maynard was diagnosed with brain cancer, and in April doctors told her she had six months to live. As her pain got worse and her seizures grew more frequent, Maynard and her family decided to move from California to Oregon, where state law allows terminally ill patients of sound mind to seek medical help to end their life. California has no such law.

Maynard's family published an obituary on Maynard's website Sunday evening supporting her decision. 

"Brittany chose to make a well-thought-out and informed choice to die with dignity in the face of such a terrible, painful and incurable illness," the obituary reads.

Five states -- Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana and New Mexico -- have laws that allow terminally ill patients to seek medical aids to death. California considered similar legislation in 2007, but the measure was shelved after it failed to receive enough support to pass. 

Maynard, a graduate of UC Berkeley and UC Irvine, went public with her story in October to advocate for wider passage of such laws. She appeared in a feature for People magazine that quickly went viral and sparked a nationwide debate about physician-assisted suicide.

She launched a website, www.theBrittanyFund.org, where she raised money to lobby for the passage of "death with dignity" laws and blogged about her last months of life. 

Maynard was an adventurous traveler, according to the release. She climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, taught in orphanages in Nepal and scuba-dived in the Galapagos. She had resolved to visit the Grand Canyon before she died, and a post from Oct. 24 described how headaches, neck pains and eventually a seizure cut the experience short. On Sunday night, a video posted to the website's home page shows Maynard talking about her decision. 

"If Nov. 2 comes along, and I've passed, I hope my family is still proud of me and the choices I've made," Maynard says in the video.

frank.shyong@latimes.com

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