Maine advances assisted suicide law

shutterstock 319864007 Blaine House, the official residence of the Governor of Maine. Via Shutterstock

A bill legalizing assisted suicide in Maine moved to the governor's desk on Tuesday after both houses of the state's legislature narrowly passed the legislation.

The so-called "Dignity With Dying" bill passed the state House of Representatives by a single vote on June 3, before making it through the senate Tuesday by a 19-16 margin.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) has a 10 day window from June 4 to sign the bill into law. She has not yet taken a position on the bill, or on assisted suicide.

If the bill were to become law, patients who have less than six months to live and do not have any mental conditions such as depression, may legally request medication that would end their life. Two doctors would have to certify that a patient is terminally ill.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Patty Hymanson (D-York).

Past efforts to legalize assisted suicide in the Pine Tree State include at least seven other bills in years past and a failed statewide referendum vote in 2012.

The bill received bipartisan support in the legislature, with members of both parties voting for and against the bill.

Earlier this year, New Jersey also moved to legalize assisted suicide. In April, Catholic Governor Phil Murphy signed an assisted dying bill into law "after careful consideration, internal reflection, and prayer."

Speaking to CNA at the time of the passage of the New Jersey bill Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen said that such measures represented a "dangerous and frightening trend" and a "brazen attack against the sanctity of human life."

Chicchio said that the Church needed to make an unflinching and compassionate defense of life at all stages.

"While we are facing dark times, we will not stop from advocating for the sanctity of human life, in all stages, and we will continue to educate our legislators, our fellow Catholics and the general public about the dangers of legalized physician-assisted suicide," Chicchio said.

On Wednesday, Pope Francis tweeted strong comments condemning assisted dying, reminding the world that people should strive to help those who are suffering.

"Euthanasia and assisted suicide are a defeat for all," said Pope Francis. "We are called never to abandon those who are suffering, never giving up but caring and loving to restore hope."

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