*Please note, this is intended as a voter education session – the Library is not taking a stance one way or another. All questions and opinions welcome*
Valerie Lovelace, Chair of Maine Death with Dignity, will present the citizen initiative to place an assisted dying statute on the 2019 ballot at the Camden Public Library 2:00 pm on Saturday, October 20. Lovelace will discuss how assisted dying will help to expand end-of-life options for dying Mainers.
The proposed law would allow adult Maine residents who have had two physicians confirm a terminal diagnosis to receive prescription medication to end their lives in a peaceful and dignified manner at a time and place of their choosing. The measure includes a lengthy list of safeguards to ensure the patient is acting voluntarily, does not suffer from impaired judgment, and is capable of taking the medication by themselves.
A similar law has been in place in Oregon since 1997. In 20 years of flawless implementation, the law has been
used sparingly—only 1,275 times, which represents fewer than 4 in 1,000 deaths in the state. A third of those who
successfully obtain a prescription opt not to use it. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that Oregon is one of the best places in America for end-of-life care, with more people using hospice and dying at home than elsewhere in the U.S. Some 90 percent of patients who use the law in Oregon receive hospice care today. The availability of hospice care improved dramatically in Oregon once the law was passed. Oregon is also among the nation’s leaders in successful palliative care.
“The Oregon law has been implemented carefully and worked exactly as intended for 20 years,” said Peg Sandeen, Executive Director of Portland, Oregon-based advocacy organization Death with Dignity National Center.
Maine Death with Dignity is a political action committee established in 2017 working to expand the rights of terminally ill patients to hasten their death with legally obtained prescription medication. The committee is working to pass an assisted dying statute in the state of Maine through the 2019 ballot. The Maine Death with Dignity Act will allow adult residents of Maine who are competent and have been diagnosed with a terminal illness with 6 months or fewer to live to obtain prescription medication to hasten their death in a peaceful manner at the time and place of their choosing.
Similar laws have been in place in Oregon (since 1997), Washington (2008), Vermont (2013), California (2016), Colorado (2016), and Washington, D.C. (2017). For more information, visit www.MaineDeathwithDignity.org.
Maine Death with Dignity | PO Box 801 | Wiscasset, ME 04578