Maine Senate Advances End-of-Life Options Legislation

May 18, 2017

The Maine Senate advanced  LD 347, an Act Supporting Death with Dignity, also known as medical aid in dying, today by a vote of 16 to 15. The bill will now move to the House of Representatives, which is expected to vote on it as soon as Friday. In 2015, end-of-life options legislation lost by a single vote in the Senate and this year, it won by a single vote. It marks a historic moment, as the legislation has never had an affirmative vote in the Senate before today.

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.

“Mainers overwhelmingly support medical aid in dying, and while most will never choose to utilize it, they want the option because it provides comfort to those facing pain and suffering in the end stages of a terminal disease,” said Lynne Tobin, a West Boothbay Harbor resident and advocate for Compassion & Choices. “By advancing this end-of-life options legislation, the Senate has shown a commitment to improving end-of-life care for all Mainers.”

“We applaud the Maine Senate for passing this vital medical aid-in-dying bill and hope that the House members realize the importance of this option to the more than 70 percent of Maine residents who want it,” said Charmaine Manansala, National Director of Political Advocacy at Compassion & Choices. “The vote today shows that the time is now for the legislature to honor the will of the public and act to ensure that Maine joins six other states and the District of Columbia in authorizing medical aid in dying.”

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
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Patricia A. González-Portillo
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