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Hearing Recap: Maine Death with Dignity Act Draws Passionate Testimony

April 11, 2019

For nearly six hours on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, legislators and citizens provided passionate testimony to the Maine State Legislature’s Committee on Health and Human Services on LD 1313, the Maine Death with Dignity Act. Physicians, religious leaders, advocates, and lawmakers past and present shared the personal stories and professional experience that inform their views on death with dignity. Death with Dignity National Center staff covered the hearing in person and on Twitter. Here are the highlights from the hearing:

Read the full text of the bill here.

Our executive director, Peg Sandeen, shared her expertise on death with dignity laws and emphasized the safeguards in the Maine bill, modeled on the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.

Read Peg Sandeen’s full testimony here or watch it here:

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Valerie Lovelace, chair of the Maine Death with Dignity steering committee and our longtime grassroots partner, testified in memory of two steadfast advocates, Rebecca VanWormer and Eva Thompson, both of whom died of cancer in 2017.

Read Cayla’s story here. Our “In Memoriam” piece on Eva Thompson features a video interview with Thompson several months before she died.

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Nurses, physicians, MRI technicians, and hospice caregivers testified in support of the bill, which they said would provide comfort and control to people facing unbearable suffering from a terminal illness.

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Maine Death with Dignity volunteer Chris Trider fought back tears as he shared the story of his wife’s remarkable life and terrible death, and how both inform his advocacy for medical aid in dying.

Read Chris’s story here.

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Faith leaders expressed their belief that the bill would provide a humane and compassionate end-of-life option to mentally capable individuals with six months or fewer to live.

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Others noted the groundswell of support for death with dignity among Mainers.

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Cyndie Rogers, who is dying of cancer, told lawmakers, “I’m not here to change your religious or personal beliefs. I’m not here to force you to choose death with dignity. What brings me here is my death,” and her desire to ensure she does not have to suffer in her final days.

Read Cyndie’s story here and watch her testimony:

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Len Freeman, who has been a regular at Maine Death with Dignity volunteer events, articulated why having the option of aid in dying is so important for those facing a terminal illness:

3 Comments.

CJ Plourde
April 12, 2019 at 9:10 am

Great work. I hope this passes.

Molly Lavallee
May 21, 2019 at 2:35 pm

Good job Maine !

Gambaa Azbayar
May 31, 2019 at 10:57 am

Goodluck! It should pass if people were more passionate.

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