Senator Roger Katz is introducing a new bill in the 2017 session.
There have been multiple attempts to pass physician-assisted dying legislation in Maine. The first came after Oregon pass the Death with Dignity Act: HB 552 in 1995, LD 916 in 1996, HB 663 in 1997, and IB 3/IB 10 in 1999. A 1998 survey of Maine voters found that 63 percent of respondents favored physician-assisted dying.
In 2000, our predecessor organization sponsored Question 1, a ballot initiative proposal closely modeled after the Oregon law, seeking to legalize physician-assisted dying. The initiative was narrowly defeated 51 to 49 percent, with only a 6,000 vote difference statewide.
In 2013, a physician-assisted dying bill with broader scope than the Oregon model, LD 1065, was considered and rejected in the legislature.
In April 2015 Representatives Bobbi Beavers (D-South Berwick), Richard Campbell (R-Orrington), Kathleen Dillingham (R-Oxford), Denise Harlow (D-Portland), Brian Hubbell (D-Bar Harbor), Eric Jorgensen, (D-Portland), Diane Russell (D-Portland), Stephen Wood (R-Sabattus), as well as Senators Roger Katz (R-Kennebec/Augusta) and Dawn Hill (D-York) cross-filed SP 452 / LD 1270, An Act Regarding Patient-directed Care at the End of Life. The Joint Committee on Health and Human Services passed the bill 7-5 at a working session on May 22. On June 15 the Maine House approved it 76-70, while the Senate voted 18-17 against the bill on June 15 and 16.
Sen. Katz, the chief sponsor, vows to bring the bill back in 2017. We are working with our local partner It’s My Death on promoting Death with Dignity in Maine.
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