Medically Assisted Suicide Legalized in Maine
"It is not up to the government to decide who may die and who may live, when they shall die or how long they shall live."
In an effort to improve comprehensive end-of-life care, Maine has approved a bill allowing some terminally ill residents the option to pursue medically assisted suicide.
The Death with Dignity Act, which was approved on Wednesday by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, will allow mentally competent patients over 18 with terminal illnesses to request life-ending medication, CNN reported. The legislation states that the option will only be available to patients whose illnesses will “within reasonable medical judgment, produce death within 6 months.” The bill, which will only apply to residents of Maine, also requires patients to submit two verbal and one written request for the medication, with mandatory waiting periods between the requests.
“Some argue that enactment of (this bill) equates to the government authorizing taking life, or ‘playing God’ with the lives of our citizens,” Mills said, according to a statement released by her office. “It is not up to the government to decide who may die and who may live, when they shall die or how long they shall live. It is our duty to provide the most comprehensive end-of-life care possible, a task we have only recently begun to recognize.”
Mills also said on Wednesday that along with signing the Death with Dignity Act into law, she had issued an executive order requiring the state to track use of the law.
The bill passed by a narrow margin earlier this month, at which point a rep for Mills said the governor had not yet taken a position on the bill, as CNN reported at the time.
When the Death with Dignity Act goes into effect, Maine will join California, Colorado, DC, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont and Washington as places where medically-assisted suicide is allowed.
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