Bills Would Let Doctors Prescribe Medication to Hasten Death

Doctors in Maine are divided on state legislation that would allow them to prescribe medication that a patient may self-administer to hasten death.

The Legislature’s health and human services committee on Wednesday held public hearings on bills sponsored by Republican Sen. Roger Katz and Democratic Rep. Jennifer Parker. Katz unsuccessfully tried to pass a similar bill two years ago.

The Maine Medical Association is not taking a position on the legislation because, so far, its members are divided. The association’s executive vice president, Gordon Smith, noted that the membership association opposed a 2000 state referendum to allow physician-assisted deaths for terminally ill adults.

So-called assisted suicide is legal in Washington D.C. and six states, including Vermont. The nonprofit Death with Dignity Political Fund says that 25 states are considering such bills this year.

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