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Maine the 8th state to legalize assisted suicide for terminally ill

By Sommer Brokaw
Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed the law after weighing both sides of the dispute. File Photo by paulbr75/Pixabay/UPI
Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed the law after weighing both sides of the dispute. File Photo by paulbr75/Pixabay/UPI

June 13 (UPI) -- Maine has become the eighth state in the nation to legalize medically assisted suicide.

The "Death with Dignity Act" will allow adults who are determined by a doctor to be within six months of dying to request and obtain medication to end their own lives, once it takes effect in October. Gov. Janet Mills signed the bill into law Wednesday.

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Maine's follows similar laws in Oregon, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Vermont, Washington and New Jersey. The District of Columbia also has a similar law.

Under the Maine law, a physician must verify the terminally ill patient has made an "informed decision" and will be assessed for depression or other mental health condition that impairs judgment. A patient must undergo a 15-day waiting period from the initial request to signing a written request for lethal medication -- and another 48-hour waiting period after making the request in writing.

Mills said she signed L.D. 1313 after weighing both sides of the controversial issue, and had talked with opponents and supporters. Some religious groups were strongly opposed, but polls show the majority of residents support it.

"Allowing people to take their own lives is a moral dilemma," Mills said. "The right of people to make that choice for themselves won out."

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Maine's House voted 73-72 to pass the bill on June 3 and the Senate followed the next day in a 19-16 vote mostly along party lines. After Mills signed it, she also signed an executive order for agencies to develop precise rules for the lethal medication process to prevent abuse.

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