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Dying Woman Decides When She Will Die; Person in Contact with Duncan Hospitalized for Ebola Symptoms; FBI Seeks Help Identifying Masked ISIS Fighter

Aired October 8, 2014 - 15:30   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Twenty-nine years of age and forced to realize terminal brain cancer will take her life. No radiation, no surgery would save her. Any treatments would destroy the time she had left.

So Brittany Maynard made a choice. With a diagnosis of six months left to live, she moved her family to Oregon. She sought an end-of- life option legal in only five states, her decision to die on her own terms by prescription pills to die with dignity. Here's part of her story.


BRITTANY MAYNARD, DYING PATIENT SETS OWN TIME TO DIE: So, after getting married is when I first started experiencing the headaches.

And they were quite severe. And I didn't understand them because I had never had anything like that before in my life. Right when I was diagnosed, my husband and I were actively trying for a family, which is heartbreaking for us both.

And then I was diagnosed this past New Year's. We went away to the wine country for kind of a New Year's Eve celebration, and by the following day Jan. 1, the following day, I was diagnosed with cancer and told I was terminally ill, and was told anywhere from three, maybe five, up to 10 years to live.

I have to tell you, when you're 29 years old, being told you have that kind of time line, still feels like you're being told you're going to die tomorrow. I went in for an MRI and was told I had great change. They were looking and saying it looks like grade-4, which is the worst and most aggressive form of brain cancer. So that was a major shock to my system and the system of my family because it went from having potentially years of time to being told I had six months.

I know that it's there when I need it. I plan to be surrounded by my immediate family, which is my husband and my mother and my stepfather and my best friend who is also a physician, and probably not much more people. And I will die upstairs in my bedroom that I share with my husband, with my mother and my husband by my side and pass peacefully with music I like in the background.

I can't even tell you the amount of relief that it provides me to know that I don't have to die the way, that it's been described to me that my brain tumor would take me on its own. I hope to enjoy however many days I have left on this beautiful earth and spend as much of it outside as I can, surrounded by those I love. I hope to pass in peace.

The reason to consider life and what's of value is to make sure you're not missing out. Seize the day. What's important to you? What do you care about? What matters? Pursue that. Forget the rest.


BALDWIN: Brittany's story has sparked thousands of responses.

Just a bit ago, I sat down with three men, got three different takes on the Death with Dignity laws, a 30-year advocate and lawyer for clients seeking their Right to Die, Dave Smith; also talked to Pastor Dave Watson of Calvary Chapel of Staten Island; and bioethicist, Art Caplan, from the Division of Medical Ethics, NYU Langone Medical Center.

And here's just the beginning of our discussion.


BALDWIN: Dave and Pastor Dave and Art, welcome. Thank you for sitting down and talking to me about this.

I want to begin with, it's so striking, Art, when you see in this video, down to the pills in her wallet, the bedroom, the music she plans to play in the background, this is all in her hands. Should it be?

ART CAPLAN, BIOETHICIST, DIVISION OF MEDICAL ETHICS, NYU LANGONE MEDICAL CENTER: I think every one of us would like to have our dying under our control. It rarely happens. Is it right to say you can pick the time of your dying? I think so. I favor what Oregon has done in terms of legalization.

I'll tell you what I'm nervous about. When you say it's going to be on date X and your family flies in and the press is hanging around, you don't want somebody to create a situation where they coerce themselves and say I have to go through with this. The point is if you're going to have assistance in dying, it's because you don't feel well, you're starting to lose your abilities, you're in the final few steps of death, and not because it's supposed to be a ceremony or public event. A crucial part of ending your life in Oregon and Washington, the right to change your mind.

BALDWIN: Right to die, right to change your mind.

Dave, you have represented these cases for three decades. One case in particular, I read about Grace, who had cancer in her brainstem and wanted to be taken off a respirator and her family thought, no, she would go to hell if she chose that way. Courts intervened. What happened there? DAVE SMITH, ATTORNEY & ADVOCATE FOR RIGHT TO DIE: What happened was

Grace's right to choose was vindicated at all three levels of the state court system in a two-week period, and then when it came time for Grace to decide, am I or am I not doing this, just as Art said, Grace more than graciously said she was going to allow her father's wishes to prevail over her own. She died an agonizing death over a two-month period.

This young lady in Oregon, I dare say, part of her decision was probably informed with that nationally covered case, and said to yourself, I'm sure I'm not going to be a quadriplegic with only my brain working when the time comes for me.

BALDWIN: But it sounds like, when you hear her describing it, she knows it would be a violent death and she wants that power, that choice and control.

Yet, Pastor Dave, as a man of God, I think you say this is not in our hands. This is in someone else's hands to decide?

DAVE WATSON, PASTOR, CALVARY CHAPEL OF STATEN ISLAND: The reason why Brittany has value and why we want her to have dignity is because she's made in the image of God. That's why she's important to us. That's why we're concerned about her. She's made in the image of God. If we believe she's made in the image of God, we believe that God determined when she would be born and God should determine when she's going to die.

I certainly sympathize. And when I read the story, I prayed for the woman and her family. I can't imagine the agony for a decision like this. But I don't think that necessarily we're saying the right things about death. If she showed, instead of a pill box, a gun, and she said, on November 1st, I'm going to put a gun in my mouth and blow my head off --


BALDWIN: She didn't. It's a pill. It seems a peaceful way to go versus this violent way this cancer could take her.

WATSON: Do we know that? Do we know it's a peaceful way to go? In other words, when a person's life is ended, do we understand what goes on behind the scenes within their mind? We know biologically, but within their mind and their heart, the tearing of the soul from the body. Do we know that that's not violent?

BALDWIN: I keep thinking, what if the doctor is wrong? What if they don't have all of the information? I know someone who has a great aunt who lived years past that prognosis from the doctor.

CAPLAN: In this case, in fact, she was told you're going to live years and then switched to you're going to live months, and that happens in medicine. We get more information.

I have to say that part of the fight here is, look, one vision, one view. Should we impose it on someone else or say it's up to you? No one is making you go through this process. If you don't want to do this and you'd rather put your fate in the hands of a higher power, you can do that. I think most Americans are going to say, look, I want that choice. I want that opportunity. That's why you are starting to see the legislation spread from Oregon and Washington. And now Vermont is coming onboard. Quebec, British Columbia, did it in Canada. Other states are going to have it on the ballot. So the right to do what she's doing is a fundamental view in America. Let me choose, if I want to go one way or if I want to go another way, let me do that.

BALDWIN: Let me hit pause on this conversation. We have to take a quick break. We'll come back and pick up where we're talking, and just in sheer numbers of people who are given this pill in these states and the actual number of people who go through with it, I think, is fascinating. The power of choice and control over one's life.

We'll be right back.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN, the world's news network.


BALDWIN: And we're back, talking about this case in Oregon which garnered worldwide attention of this young woman, Brittany, 29 years of age, dying of terminal brain cancer. She wants to take this fatal pill.

We're talking to Dave Smith, advocate for the Right to Die; Pastor Dave Watson, Calvary Chapel of Staten Island; and also Art Caplan, Division of Medical Ethics, NYU Langone Medical Center.

Let's pick up with the numbers, and then I'm coming to you about the money. First the numbers. Reading in "The Washington Post," "Since the law passed in Oregon, just over 1,100 people who have been prescribed the lethal medication, about two-thirds of them actually took the drug."

Makes me wonder, is it more about the power of saying I have this pill and if I so choose, I can take it and die on my own, my own choice.

CAPLAN: It's completely about control. Having the parachute you can pull the cord on, a lot of people don't. It's interesting. 1,100 people ask for pills. It's almost no one. That's a tiny number. 14 years in Oregon, 1,100 requests. A lot of people say, no, I'm going to deal with hospice or I'm going to go care. I don't want to do this. We're getting a small number of folks say, I'll take the pill, and an even smaller number saying, I'll end my life. We worry that we see folks bullied into doing this.

The data from Oregon and state of Washington, where this has been around, no one seems to be coerced. People aren't saying -- (CROSSTALK)

CAPLAN: -- Johnny's tuition is running out here, time for you to leave. It looks like, because it has so many safeguards, terminal illness, psychiatric evaluation, waiting periods, you have to report to the police.

BALDWIN: "T"s are crossed and "I"s are dotted.

But you, David, having represented some of these people, you say you are concerned. What are you concerned about?

SMITH: I'm concerned that as such a concept becomes too institutionalized that it can become too easy and you're going to have insurance companies lining up to send limos to people's houses saying, you want to take that pill, go ahead. They'll save $1 million a patient. Is that a real concern? I think it is not at this point. And as Art said, as long as safeguards are in place, fine. Ultimately, are we going to use this as a tool against the poor?


CAPLAN: Just quickly to insert, we have seen some slippage. It's been in Europe. In Belgium, in Netherlands, people with psychiatric issues and children and people suffering from depression --


CAPLAN: --, they have all used assisted suicide there. It's not that it can't happen. If we're going to have it here, we better be very, very vigilant both about the financial angle and the protections.

WATSON: I think we have to ask a greater question, and that is, are we going to allow, or are we going to think that whatever the majority thinks is what should be. Is there not a greater ethic? In the 1800s -- the 1700s to 1800s, in India, to die with dignity as a widow of someone was to be burned with them? What changed with that was ethics of British who came with the Judeo-Christian ethic that said, I know a majority of people may want, but it's not ethical according to a higher power. I think we have to ask that question about our world view and where are we going to determine what's right or wrong?

CAPLAN: I have a question and I'd have an interest in your response, very quickly. Do you think God, to do what God wants to do, has to work through a ventilator? I ask you that because we have technology that we start and technologies we stop, and people often say to me, I can't shut them off because it's not my decision. But we decide to start them.


CAPLAN: -- miracles are going to happen.

WATSON: Right. I think the difference is between ordinary and extraordinary means. Ordinary is, I do what's normal. I feed you. I help you along. Extraordinary is, I step in and I make you breathe. At the point that I make you breathe, I've stepped in. I'm not saying that someone doesn't have a choice to do that. I'm saying that when I'm doing that, I'm actually in the place where I'm kind of playing God at that point.


SMITH: Beyond that, the ethic we have in this country, from the time of our founding, is not a religious-based ethic. It's a lay ethic. It's my right as an individual to determine my own fate. That's what this country is all about. And Pastor Dave and his flock, and everyone else who feels that way, are more than welcome to not exercise that right in deference to God. I need to have the feeling that I am not having my rights limited by those who feel otherwise.

BALDWIN: In this case in Oregon, Brittany is exercising her right. She lawfully can do so. Maybe her friends, her relatives, would choose not to. I think this is such an excellent conversation globally just sparking from this one particular story.

Dave Smith, Pastor Dave Watson, and Art, thank you.

CAPLAN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: I appreciate it very much.

SMITH: Thank you.


BALDWIN: What a conversation, huh? I would love to hear from you. I'm reading my tweets as I'm watching this. Send me your thoughts, whichever side of the issue you take, @brookeb/CNN.

Coming up, breaking news just into us at CNN. Hours after hearing that the Ebola patient died in Dallas, we are getting word that a patient claiming he or she had contact with so-called patient zero there is now being rushed to the hospital experiencing symptoms of Ebola. We'll take you live to Texas, next.


BALDWIN: All right. We are getting now some breaking news into us here at CNN about an individual in Dallas who is exhibiting signs and symptoms of Ebola.

So let's go to Dallas to our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, who has been there and has been covering that first case of Ebola, Thomas Eric Duncan who, passed away this morning, and now this second possible case.

What do we know, Elizabeth?


At 12:30 today, the dispatch folks in the city of Frisco got a call from Care Now, which appears to be an urgent-care center, that someone had come in having the signs and symptoms of Ebola and claims to have had contact with, as they put it, patient zero. We are sort of assuming that that means Duncan, although they didn't make that clear. And so this person has been transported by firefighter/paramedics.

A couple of notes that I want to make note of here. Just because they had contact with patient zero does not necessarily mean they did, or something might have gotten lost in translation.

Also, the early signs and symptoms of Ebola are so common that, Brooke, you and I have probably had them at some point. You might feel feverish, you're achy, you might have a headache and your stomach hurts. And the signs are so common that part of what's problematic with this disease is you don't always know what you're looking at.

BALDWIN: This is early reporting. We'll stay on it and make phone calls. But again, just exhibiting signs and symptoms, as you point out. It could be anything.

And the second question I have for you, over the course of the last time we talked, the news has broken with regard to Duncan's body. Tell me what we've learned.

COHEN: What we've learned now from the state of Texas is that his body will be cremated. They had two choices. They could cremate his body or they could put it in a hermetically sealed casket. And they've chosen the option of cremating the body. That is the option often being used in parts of West Africa, as well.

BALDWIN: OK, Elizabeth Cohen for us in Dallas.

Just a head's-up to all of you. We do know now they are saying a news conference scheduled about 40 minutes from now, 4:30 eastern time, with more information on the story and also more on the death of Thomas Eric Duncan from earlier this morning. So stay with CNN for those updates.

Meantime, coming up next, the FBI is asking for your help identifying this ISIS fighter. He said he could be American. Agents using voice analysis to try to figure out who he is. We'll have a forensics expert to explain what that process looks like, next.


BALDWIN: For weeks the FBI has been running facial recognition on this man. You're about to see him here. This is a tough task considering you can barely see him. Just his eyes and eyebrows. And the only other clue to the identity of this killer is his voice.

Take a listen. And my question to you is, does he sound American?


UNIDENTIFIED ISIS FIGHTER: We're here in the 17th Division Military Base just outside the city of Arama (ph) and we are here with the soldiers of Bashar. You can see them now digging their own graves in the very place where they were stationed.


BALDWIN: Bragging about executing those Syrian soldiers. He is doing it in what the FBI believes is perfect North American English. And now they're asking if you know him. Obviously, he's a wanted man.

Paul Ginsberg, an audio forensic expert, who has worked with the CIA, DEA, ATF and Homeland Security, joining me now.

This is your wheel house, listening to things like this.


BALDWIN: When you hear this, sir, what do you hear?

GINSBERG: I hear someone who speaks perfect English. I did notice that he rolled his "R"s in talking about Arama (ph) rather than Arama (ph), so there may be a clue in that. There are people in intelligence agencies who are taking apart each and every word and comparing to libraries of recorded sounds and voices and words and phrases that they have in their files.

BALDWIN: There is also the possibility, as we have discussed in seeing the other beheading videos of James Foley, in which it is possible that the man you see is not -- the voice we hear does not belong to the man we see in the video.

GINSBERG: Correct. A few possibilities. Either it is him.


GINSBERG: Or it's somebody else whose voice has been dubbed in after the fact. And we do know that they do post-production editing. There are two cameras. There are titles. There's music. There are fade outs. There are echoes. And all of that has to be done after the fact, as could a dubbing of a voice.

BALDWIN: You say it yourself, you have the software, all of the manipulations of a voice could occur. Pointing out the fact and looking at the video, you see the ISIS flag waving, yet there is no wind pickup on the microphone.

GINSBERG: Exactly. And you wonder, was it done after the fact or was it done live? Very difficult.

BALDWIN: You bring up the great point, which has been made many times before, they really are this P.R. machine. And just thinking, they went through all of these different steps to develop this sort of recruitment video, entirely sophisticated. Is it truly possible that the FBI can figure this out?

GINSBERG: Well, if they have enough samples, and this is a fairly limited sample, believe it or not. And also it's muffled for whatever reason. And I wonder whether it's the recording technique, the microphone placement or the mask that he's wearing or whether it was to disguise the fact that it was dubbed in later. It's difficult.

BALDWIN: Talking to a counterterrorism expert, saying to me it's also incredibly significant that he does, whether it is or not, sound American in this recruitment video, it is a message to Westerners, we want you.

GINSBERG: That's right. It's intended to scare and recruit at the same time. They are pretty good at P.R.

BALDWIN: Paul Ginsberg, thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate it.

GINSBERG: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And I hope the FBI, I hope they find him, absolutely. Thank you so much for being with me here on CNN.

Again, if you missed our discussion or any other interview, you can always go to the Brooke blog. Go to I want your thoughts not just on what's happening with ISIS but also what's happening with this young woman's story in Oregon. Something I'm sure Jake Tapper and other shows beyond us will be talking about today, the Death with Dignity laws in just a couple of states. Is this OK? Is this something the nation should adopt or not?

I'm Brooke Baldwin. See you back here tomorrow.

"THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.