Maine Legalizes Assisted Suicide for the Terminally Ill

Terminally ill patients living in Maine who want to end their lives through life-ending medication administered by a doctor can now do so thanks to Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signing the Maine Death with Dignity Act. The act passed the state House by one vote and a slim margin in the state Senate.

The new legislation defines “terminal disease” as one that is incurable and will likely end in death within six months. The law requires that the ill patient must be 18, must undergo two waiting periods, and must obtain a second opinion by a consulting physician, along with one written and two verbal requests. Physicians would screen patients for issues like depression that could impair judgment. And, finally, the law would make it illegal to force someone into requesting life-ending medication as well as forging a request for lethal medication.

“Assisted suicide is a dangerous public policy that puts the most vulnerable people in society at risk for abuse, coercion, and mistakes. It also provides profit-driven insurance companies perverse incentives to offer a quick death, rather than costly continuing quality care,” Matt Valliere, executive director of Patients Rights Action Fund, said.

Maine is now the eighth state to make assisted suicide legal, joining California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia in legalizing the procedure.

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