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Assisted suicide Maine Shutter

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed Wednesday the Maine Death with Dignity Act that allows terminally ill patients to take their own lives.

This came two decades after Oregon first legalized the same bill. Death with Dignity Act has been proposed several times in Maine however, it failed to pass in a statewide vote and even seven times in Congress.

Along with the other states such as California, Colorado, Hawaii, Vermont, Washington, New Jersey and the District of Columbia, Maine became the 8th state that legalizes assisted suicide.

This law also gives permission to doctors to prescribe a fatal dose of medications to terminally ill patients.

The House passed the bill by just one vote, 73-72 while the Senate voted 19-16 narrowing the approval of the bill.

It defines “terminal disease” as one that is incurable and the patient will likely end to death within six months. The bill also states that getting or giving life-ending medication will not qualify as suicide under the state law.

Physicians are now required to get a second medical opibnion and have their requests made at least two verbal requests and one written by patients before patients can be administered lethal doses of medication. Doctors also needs to screen patients for condition that can impair judgement like depression.

“The opportunity for someone of sound mind facing imminent death to avoid further suffering is viewed by some purely as an act of opinion, a decision with which government should not interfere,” said Mills in a statement Wednesday justifying her decision to sign the bill into law.

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

Residents of the state expressed their relief on the governor’s decision.