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The Will to Move Bills

Because, frustratingly, it isn’t always the case, seeing the will of the people reflected in legislative action feels encouraging, regardless of the near-term outcome. And every success helps move the movement forward.

Aid-in-dying bills in both Nevada and Maine – states which boast 72 and 70 percent support among residents for the option respectively – made remarkable progress this month.

The Nevada Senate, after emotional floor debate, passed SB 261 May 23 on a bipartisan 11-10 vote, and the bill now goes to the Assembly with less than two weeks remaining in the legislative session. If approved in the lower house, it faces a possible veto by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, who has said he does not support the policy. But this is still a huge step toward authorizing medical aid in dying and the furthest legislation of its kind has ever advanced in Nevada.

After a successful 16 to 15 vote in the Senate the prior week, also on May 23 the Maine House of Representatives voted against LD 347, an Act Supporting Death with Dignity, 61 to 85.

“Even though the end-of-life options legislation was defeated today by the House, the will of the people of Maine will eventually prevail,” said Lynne Tobin, a West Boothbay Harbor, Maine, resident and advocate for Compassion & Choices. “By voting against this legislation, House members are threatening a vital end-of-life option for Mainers living with terminal illnesses who are already fighting against the clock and may now never live to utilize it. That is the real cost of our lawmakers thwarting this crucial bill.”