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Celebrating Victory in Maine

September 29, 2019

Last week, Death with Dignity staff celebrated the implementation of the Maine Death with Dignity Act with our longtime grassroots partners. Maine Death with Dignity volunteers, state legislators, and supporters from across the state joined the festivities.

“All I can say is, ‘wow,'” Maine Death with Dignity Steering Committee Chair Valerie Lovelace said. “The Maine event gave all of us an opportunity to reflect on the journey of the past five years and to credit those who had tried so many times before us.”

A poster created by Maine Death with Dignity volunteers celebrates the historic campaign that led to the passage of the End of Life Option Act.

Maine’s law went into effect on September 19, three months after Maine Governor Janet Mills signed the Maine Death with Dignity Act into law in June. A signature-gathering effort by the Christian Civic League for a petition to repeal the Act failed, eliminating a threat to implementation of the law. Maine’s rollout of the law is going smoothly and more quickly than in other states that have adopted assisted-dying statutes.

Culmination of a Long Campaign

The enactment of the Maine Death with Dignity Act capped a nearly five-year-long campaign by Death with Dignity and grassroots advocates in the Pine Tree State.

Representative Patricia Hymanson (D-York), a retired neurologist, introduced the bill as LD 1313 at the beginning of the 2019 legislative session with bipartisan co-sponsorship from both chambers. This was the third session with a similar bill. The bill passed in the House by 73 to 72 and in the Senate by 19 to 16 in early June.

Maine State Representative Patricia Hymanson (at left), a co-sponsor of the Maine Death with Dignity Act, and Valerie Lovelace, chair of Maine Death with Dignity Steering Committee.

A parallel effort Maine Death with Dignity initiated in April 2018 gathered over 72,000 valid signatures and would have taken the question to ballot in 2020 had LD 1313 failed.

“What a Gift”

“What a gift to have played a part in bringing a death with dignity law to Maine,” Val said. “I’m feeling like it still hasn’t quite sunk in for me, to have helped make it possible for Mainers to now enjoy such a dear, dear freedom. “It’s humbling and yet it feels so powerful.”

Death with Dignity Executive Director Peg Sandeen; Maine Death with Dignity Steering Committee Chair Valerie Lovelace; and Maine State Representative Patricia Hymanson cut a celebratory cake at an event on September 28, 2019.

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