The Maine Senate has given preliminary approval to a bill that will allow people with a terminal illness to decide when to end their life.
If it's enacted, Maine would join five states and the District of Columbia with laws described by supporters as death with dignity, and by opponents as physician-assisted suicide.
Republican Sen. Roger Katz, of Augusta, spoke in favor of the bill. He said people are already free to refuse medication and treatment. "And just as we respect the right to make decisions during our life, we should have that same ability at the end of our lives."
Opponents expressed religious and ethical objections. A motion to defeat the bill failed by one vote. It now moves to the House.
The proposal still faces long odds because Gov. Paul LePage has already said he will veto it. Overriding the governor would take a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and House.