Death with Dignity

Scores of people lined up to testify on legislation that will allow some terminally-ill patients to request life-ending medication. Unlike many bills before the legislature, this issue is not partisan — it is intensely personal.

Steve Mistler / Maine Public

For the third time in four years, Maine lawmakers will consider a bill that will allow some terminally-ill patients to request life-ending medication.

A bill that would have allowed terminally ill patients to end their lives has failed to pass in the Maine Legislature. Though the Death with Dignity legislation narrowly succeeded the Senate last week, the House voted against it Tuesday with a margin wide enough to end its chances. But supporters say they’ll try again, and may bypass the Legislature.

In her work as a neurologist, Democratic state Rep. Patty Hymanson has seen patients face tough, terminal diagnoses. She told her House colleagues Tuesday that she hears a common question.

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.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine Gov. Paul LePage clarified his stance on assisted suicide during a radio appearance in which he said he's still against a measure to make the practice legal in the state.
LePage, a Republican, said earlier this week that he would veto a bill moving through the Legislature that would allow doctors to help terminally ill patients hasten their own deaths. He said on WGAN-AM on Thursday that the reason he opposes the proposal is because he doesn't think it's a "government issue.''

AUGUSTA, Maine - Gov. Paul LePage says he will veto any of several pending bills designed to allow people with a terminal illness to decide when to end their life.

Lawmakers are considering two similar bills. In an appearance on WVOM Radio in Bangor, LePage vowed to veto such legislation.

“Here we are talking death with dignity and, you know we’re sitting there - human beings passing judgment of who should live and who should die," LePage said. "I just, I just don’t believe in it.”

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Editor's note: Since being interviewed for this story, the Maine Medical Association has updated its position as neither for nor against the Death with Dignity bills.

This week Maine lawmakers will consider two similar bills that pose the same question: Should terminally ill patients have the right to end their lives?

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine lawmakers have defeated a bill that would have allowed doctors to provide lethal doses of medication to terminally ill patients.

Republican Sen. Roger Katz's bill died Tuesday because the Senate and House failed to agree on the bill.

The Republican-controlled Senate narrowly rejected the bill with an 18-17 vote earlier this week. The Democratic-led House supported it with a 76-70 vote.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Legislation that would allow a person to decide to end their life with the assistance of a doctor generated intense debate in the Maine Legislature today.

By Alanna Durkin, The Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Maine - The Republican-controlled Maine Senate has narrowly rejected a contentious bill that would provide terminally ill patients with the power to end their own lives.

The Senate voted 18-17 against the Republican Sen. Roger Katz's bill after nearly an hour of debate on Monday. It now heads to the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

The bill would make Maine the sixth state in the country to allow physicians to provide lethal doses of medication to dying patients.

Courtesy: Rosie Chase

HARBORSIDE, Maine - The national debate over assisted suicide has gained increased attention since a 29-year-old Oregon woman with brain cancer ended her life with legally-prescribed medication last November.