Choosing Their Time

The next contentious end-of-life issue: assisted suicide. How Oregon offers a way out

ROBBIE MCCLARAN FOR TIME

"They are young," she says of her doctors. "They don't understand the pains of the elderly." —LILLIAN SULLIVAN Retired Oregon bookkeeper with ALS

Steve Mason is ready for death. Since last December, the 65-year-old writer has kept four small bottles of clear liquid Nembutal-- a lethal dose of barbiturates--in his Ashland, Ore., condominium. And at some point in the next few months, when terminal lung cancer has spread to his liver or brain, when his breath is short and he feels too sick to eat or sleep, he will pick a day to gather close friends and family about him. He will give away his belongings and say his goodbyes. "It will be a celebration of life," Mason predicts. "I'd like to hear...

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