Maine Legislature Passes Bill That Would Legalize Assisted Suicide

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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Maine may legalize medically assisted suicide for adults suffering from terminal illnesses if the governor signs legislation sent to her desk.

The bill legalizes assisted suicide for mentally competent people older than 18 who are suffering from a terminal illness. It passed the Maine House 73-72 on Monday and the Maine Senate 19-16 on Tuesday, according to CNN.

Democratic Maine Gov. Janet Mills has not indicated whether she will sign the bill, her spokeswoman Lindsay Crete told CNN. The governor has 10 days to take a position on the legislation. (RELATED: Are Women Who Have Abortions Also Mothers? Here’s What RBG Said)

Patients who wish to have an assisted suicide must make one written and two oral requests for the required medication, according to CNN. The patient would then wait two days before receiving his or her prescription and is also required to consult with a physician for a second opinion. The bill would criminalize any knowing coercion or exertion of “undue influence” on a patient.

“I hope you will come down on the side of the terminally ill, people who don’t seem to be asking for too much: the right to choose their own end of life care,” Republican Maine state Sen. Marianne Moore told The Associated Press.

Republican Maine state Sen. Scott Cyrway said patients often live many years after learning they have limited time left.

“There’s several instances like that where hope is everything,” Cyrway said, according to the AP. “If we go and take this hope away, that’s what we’re doing when we push this button.”

“Today Maine legislators voted in favor a public policy that puts disadvantaged Mainers in grave danger,” said Matt Valliere, executive director of Patients Rights Action Fund, an organization dedicated to patients’ rights, after the state Senate passed the bill.

“The so-called safeguards in this bill are hollow and fail to eliminate that risk,” he added. “We call on Governor Janet Mills to veto this bill and to focus instead on improving access to quality health care for all people of Maine.”

Pope Francis tweeted Wednesday that assisted suicide and euthanasia “are a defeat for all.”

“We are called never to abandon those who are suffering, never giving up but caring and loving to restore hope,” the pope said.

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