Death with Dignity bill gets preliminary approval in Maine

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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - The Maine Senate has given preliminary approval to a Death with Dignity bill that would allow physicians to prescribe terminally ill people a fatal dose of medication.

Under the proposal, the individual would follow a procedure that includes a second opinion by a consulting physician, along with one written and two verbal requests. Physicians would screen patients for conditions like depression that could impair judgment.

The Senate vote on the bill was 19-16 on Thursday.

It passed earlier in the week in the House.

Further votes are necessary.

The Dignity National Center and Death with Dignity Political Fund say six states have physician-assisted suicide laws.

Opponents warn that terminally ill individuals could feel pressured to end their lives to spare loved ones the expense or burden of caring for them.