About Maine’s Death with Dignity Act:
The Maine Death with Dignity Act provides a structured, legal process by which qualified patients may request and receive life-ending medication from their attending physician under specific circumstances.
In order to qualify, a patient must:
- Be an adult (18 yrs or older) resident of Maine.
- Be diagnosed with a terminal disease and have a six month prognosis, confirmed by attending and consulting physicians.
- Be of sound mind.
- Be making an informed decision (as defined in statute).
- Be capable of ingesting the medication without assistance.
- Submit two verbal requests separated by a minimum of 15 days.
- Submit a witnessed, written request.
- Wait at least 48 hours after the written request is submitted to receive the prescription if you have qualified.
It is important to know exactly what you are requesting from your physician. All patients and their supporting family members should read the law in it’s entirety.
Forms and More Info
Maine Death with Dignity encourages you to have early conversations with your physician(s) about all of your end of life concerns and desires to establish mutual understanding well in advance.
While you may speak with a physician at any time regarding Maine’s new law, it is important to note that the formal request process does not start until you are diagnosed with a terminal disease and given a prognosis of six months or less. Then your request for life-ending medication under the Maine Death with Dignity Act must be initiated by you, the patient, in both verbal and written formats, with time delays in between.
Your written request must be “substantially in the form of” that which appears in the law. The State of Maine developed a form to ensure your request is in compliance, and while you are not required to use this exact form, it does contain everything you need to meet the requirements of the law:
Request for Medication to End My Life in a Humane and Dignified Manner (click here).
Interpreter attachment form as needed (click here)
Attending and consulting physicians willing and able to support your decision under the Death with Dignity Act have specific procedural requirements codified in the law, and if supporting, they will work with you through these steps.
A physician check-sheet is available to help you understand the process outline (click here).
Your physicians may have additional policy guidelines, depending on who employs them.
All applicable forms may be found on the Maine Department of Health and Human Services website under forms for vital statistics (click here).
If you would like to have a Maine Death with Dignity volunteer help you with the process steps and be available to you and your family from start to finish, or would like someone to speak with you or your medical provider to clarify the law, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Enrolling in Hospice
Medical Aid in Dying is perfectly compatible with hospice care. Maine Death with Dignity recommends patients consider enrolling in hospice for supportive palliative care and accessing other valuable services. While enrollment in hospice is not a requirement to qualify for medical aid in dying, the services provided by hospice can be incredibly helpful for the patient and the family as terminal illness progresses.
The Maine Death with Dignity Act does not require physicians or other providers to participate in supporting patients’ decisions to hasten their own death:
“Nothing in this Act requires a health care provider to provide medication to a qualified patient to end the qualified patient’s life. If a health care provider is unable or unwilling to carry out the qualified patient’s request under this Act, the health care provider shall transfer any relevant medical records for the patient to a new health care provider upon request by the patient.”