By Dave Andrusko
Illustrating yet again that every vote counts, on Wednesday Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed a “Death with Dignity” law that had squeaked by both the House and Senate.
“The proposal had failed once in a statewide referendum and at least seven previous times in the Legislature,” the Associated Press reported. “The current measure passed by just one vote in the House [73-72] and a slim margin in the Senate [19-16].”
Mills, who as recently as this week said she was unsure whether she would sign the bill, “It is my hope that this law, while respecting the right to personal liberty, will be used sparingly.”
There were the usual bromides about safeguards, but critics were buying none of that.
“Opponents, meanwhile, have said any assisted suicide legislation puts the terminally ill and individuals with disabilities in danger of abuse, coercion and mistakes,” said the Associated Press’ Marina Villeneuve. “Such groups argue that doctors can be wrong and that government is devaluing life by “turning suicide into a medical option.”
“Do you think the insurance companies will do the right thing or the cheap thing?” said Teresa McCann-Tumidajski, executive director of the Maine Right to Life Committee. “The so-called safeguards are there for the physicians, insurance carriers and lawyers. Not the patient.”
In addition to Maine, assisted suicide is now legal in California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and may have some protection in Montana.
The narrow passage reminds us how important the decision by the AMA over the weekend to retain its opposition to assisted suicide. The opposition of the state AMA affiliates is crucial to stemming the tide.
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