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Vermont poised to legalize assisted suicide

May 15, 2013 at 3:50 PM

MONTPELIER, Vt., May 15 (UPI) -- A bill that would legalize assisted suicide for terminally ill patients in Vermont has received final legislative approval.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, is expected to sign the measure in the next few days, The Wall Street Journal reported. His action would make Vermont the third state after Oregon and Washington to allow doctor-assisted suicide.

Shumlin told the Journal his own mother, who is in her 80s, backs the bill although she is healthy. He said the measure "gives Vermonters who are suffering from a terminal illness and anticipating excruciating pain peace of mind in knowing that this is an option."

The House passed the bill 75-65 Monday night. The Senate approved it last week.

The bill would apply to people more than 18 years of age suffering from an illness that would kill them in less than six months and would have to be capable of taking a lethal drug dose on their own. Two doctors would be required to certify the patient's condition.

"Physician-assisted suicide will forever transform the role of physician from one who preserves life to one who takes life," the Roman Catholic diocese of Burlington said in a statement before the vote, urging Catholics to ask legislators to oppose the bill.

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