Maine House of Representatives Defies Voters, Fails to Pass End-of-Life Options Legislation

May 23, 2017

The Maine House of Representatives voted against LD 347, an Act Supporting Death with Dignity, also known as medical aid in dying, today by a vote of 61 to 85. The Senate advanced the legislation last Thursday by a vote of 16 to 15.

Medical aid in dying is an end-of-life medical practice in which a terminally ill, mentally capable individual who has a prognosis of six months or less to live requests, obtains and—if his or her suffering becomes unbearable—self-ingests medication that brings about a peaceful death.

“Even though the end-of-life options legislation was defeated today by the House, the will of the people of Maine will eventually prevail,” said Lynne Tobin, a West Boothbay Harbor resident and advocate for Compassion & Choices. “By voting against this legislation, House members are threatening a vital end-of-life option for Mainers living with terminal illnesses who are already fighting against the clock and may now never live to utilize it. That is the real cost of our lawmakers thwarting this crucial bill.”

“The House has discounted the will of the people of Maine and the action of the Senate,” said Maine aid-in-dying advocate, Shawn Lewin, Boothbay Harbor. “The choice to utilize medical aid in dying is between an individual, their faith and their loved ones. It is a dangerous precedent to set for government to inflict its will on that of its constituents.”

“We are deeply disappointed that members of the House didn’t see fit to join over 70 percent of Maine residents who want the option of medical aid in dying,” said Tim Appleton, Multi-State Campaign and Outreach Manager at Compassion & Choices. “The personal opinions of certain lawmakers and others should not interfere with the will of Mainers who overwhelmingly support this legislation and should not take away the peace of mind that this option brings to those who are terminally ill and enduring unbearable suffering.”

Large majorities of Americans believe that a dying person’s decision whether to end their suffering belongs between them and their doctor, based on their own values.

  • A 2017 Public Policy Polling survey showed that 73% of Mainers support the proposed right to die legislation.
  • 74 percent of Americans support the right of a terminally ill adult to end their suffering at life’s end, according to a 2014 Harris Poll.
  • 59 percent of Christian Americans, and 70 percent of Americans of other religions, agree that: “When a person is facing a painful terminal disease, it is morally acceptable to ask for a physician’s aid in taking his or her own life,” according to a 2016 LifeWay Research online survey.
  • 57 percent of U.S. doctors support medical aid in dying, backing the rights of patients with an incurable illness to seek a dignified death, according to a 2017 Medscape poll.

If enacted, LD 347 would allow Maine to join six other states and the District of Columbia in authorizing medical aid-in-dying legislation. Oregon, where aid in dying has been legal for two decades, has been joined by Washington, Montana, Vermont, California, Colorado and Washington, DC.

Compassion & Choices
Media Contacts

Sean Crowley
Media Relations Director
[email protected]

Patricia A. González-Portillo
National Latino Media Director
[email protected]
(323) 819 0310

Compassion & Choices
8156 S Wadsworth Blvd #E-162
Littleton, CO 80128

Mail contributions directly to:
Compassion & Choices Gift Processing Center
PO Box 485
Etna, NH 03750