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Maine legalizes assisted suicide

Martin M. Barillas Martin M. Barillas Follow Martin

AUGUSTA, Maine, June 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed the Maine Death with Dignity Act on Wednesday, making the state the 10th jurisdiction to legalize assisted suicide.

When she inked the legislation, Gov. Mills brought Maine into line with Oregon, which was the first state to legalize the practice of physicians prescribing lethal medicines for patients to use to kill themselves.

California, Colorado, Hawaii, Vermont, Washington, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia have passed similar laws in recent years. The Montana Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the practice, although there is no state law on the books explicitly allowing it.

Portland, Maine Bishop Robert Deeley said in a statement that the bill “legalizes a practice which has devastating effects on the common good. Suicide is always a tragedy.” Saying that it is a sad day for Maine, the bishop said that young people will now think “that people can and should be disposable.”

“The legislature and Governor Janet Mills failed the people of Maine. 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. “It also provides profit-driven insurance companies perverse incentives to offer a quick death, rather than costly continuing quality care. Mainers, especially the terminally ill, people with disabilities, and the poor, deserve better.”

Once the bill takes effect, patients ages 18 and over who are diagnosed with a terminal disease that will allegedly cause death within six months may request the lethal drug cocktail, which is similar to those used in executions.

They must make two verbal requests and one written request for the medication with a waiting period between the requests and receipt of the drugs. The legislation says that actions taken under the Act should not be considered “suicide, assisted suicide, mercy killing[,] or homicide under the law.”

Individual healthcare providers may elect not to participate in ending a patient’s life. However, medical records must be transferred to another healthcare provider if so requested by the patient.

According to the governor’s office, she said, “Some argue that enactment of [this bill] equates to the government authorizing taking life, or ‘playing God’ with the lives of our citizens.” She added, “It is not up to the government to decide who may die and who may live, when they shall die or how long they shall live. It is our duty to provide the most comprehensive end of life care possible, a task we have only recently begun to recognize.”

In addition to supporting assisted suicide, Mills is a strong abortion supporter who has signed into law a bill allowing non-doctors to commit abortions and one forcing public and private insurers to cover abortions.

Long time Not Dead Yet disability activist Mike Reynolds condemned the new law, saying that it “will lead to the untimely deaths of disabled people due to inevitable mistakes, coercion[,] and abuse.” According to the group, a conversation with Gov. Mills’ staff for today was cancelled unexpectedly. Reynolds had planned to tell the governor’s staff that because ending patients’ lives is “the cheapest treatment available,” it is “an attractive option in our profit-driven healthcare system.”

The statement went on to say that if medical insurance companies deny or delay expensive life-saving care, patients “will be steered toward assisted suicide.”

“Will insurers do the right thing, or the cheap thing?” the group asked. “Examples already exist where this is legal.”

On Monday, the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a report by its Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs recommeding that the phrase “physician-assisted suicide” continue to be used instead of euphemisms such as “medical aid-in-dying.” At a conference in Chicago, the AMA also voted to reaffirm its Code of Medical Ethics’ current view that allowing physicians to aid in their patients’ deaths “is fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as healer.” That vote was 392 to 162.

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