Maine Physician-Assisted Deaths for Terminally Ill Adults, Question 1 (2000)

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The Maine Physician-Assisted Deaths for Terminally Ill Adults, also known as Question 1, was on the November 7, 2000 ballot in Maine as an indirect initiated state statute, where it was defeated.[1] The measure would have allowed informed adults with terminal illnesses to request and receive medications to end their lives from their attending physician.[2]

Election results

Maine Question 1 (2000)
Defeatedd No332,28051.33%
Yes 315,031 48.67%

Election results via: Maine Secretary of State, Elections Division: Referendum Election Tabulations, November 7, 2000

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[2]

Question 1: Citizen Initiative

Should a terminally ill adult who is of sound mind be allowed to ask for and receive a doctor’s help to die? [3]


The following description of the intent and content of this measure was provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election:

This initiative would enact a new statute, entitled the Maine Death with Dignity Act. Under the Act, a person who is terminally ill, over the age of 18, a resident of this state for at least 6 months and capable of making his or her own decisions about health care, may request medication to end their life in a humane and dignified manner. The request must be personally communicated to the person’s attending physician on two occasions not less than 15 days apart. It also must be conveyed in written form, witnessed by two individuals who are not related to the patient, and who have no interest in the patient’s estate. The Act requires the attending physician to first counsel the person regarding alternatives such as comfort care, hospice care and pain control, and a consulting physician must confirm the diagnosis of terminal illness as well as the determination that the person is capable of making the decision, is acting voluntarily and is making a decision to end their life in this manner after being fully informed by the physician of all relevant facts. Before obtaining the requested medication, the person also must be referred to a specialist on palliative care as well as to a counselor to determine whether the person is suffering from a psychiatric or psychological disorder or depression that causes impaired judgment. A request for medication to end the person’s life may be revoked at any time, and the person must be so advised. The Act also provides that a decision to end one’s life in this manner will not affect benefits payable under a life, health or accident insurance or annuity policy.

A person who participates in good faith compliance with this Act would not be subject to civil or criminal liability or professional disciplinary action. The Act does not impose any obligation on a health care provider or pharmacist to provide medication to end the patient’s life if they are unable or unwilling to do so, and the Act does not authorize any person to assist in the administering of any medication prescribed under the Act.

If approved, this Act would take effect 30 days after the proclamation of the vote.

A "YES" vote is in favor of the initiative and approves the legislation.

A "NO" vote is in opposition to the initiative and disapproves the legislation. [3]

Maine Secretary of State [2]

Path to the ballot

See also: Signature requirements for ballot measures in Maine

A total of 48,566 petition signatures were filed to place this measure before the state legislature. The legislature failed to enact the measure on March 15, 2000, when both chambers accepted the "Unanimous Ought Not to Pass Report." Because Maine has a system of indirect initiatives, the measure was referred to a popular vote of the electors.[4]

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