Maine to become 8th state to legalize medically-assisted suicide

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Advocates for patients and the disabled warn of potential dangers to vulnerable people.

Maine became the latest state to allow medically-assisted suicide on Wednesday after Democratic Gov. Janet Mills approved legislation that would permit adults with terminal diseases to request and receive lethal prescriptions to end their own lives.

The bill, which passed both houses of the Democratic-controlled legislation earlier this month, includes two waiting periods and would require terminally ill patients who are expected to die within six months to make two verbal and one written requests for prescriptions for life-ending medication.

The legislation includes language declaring that medically-assisted suicide is not technically suicide.

With this legislation, Maine will join seven states and the District of Columbia in allowing some form of medically-assisted suicide. The other states are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and New Jersey.

Supporters of the patients and those with disabilities condemned the legislation, warning that it could create incentives to coerce patients to end their lives.

“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, told The Hill. 

“Mainers, especially the terminally ill, people with disabilities, and the poor, deserve better,” said Valliere.

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