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California Senate approves physician-assisted suicide bill

(Reuters) – The California Senate approved a physician-assisted suicide bill on Thursday that could see the most populous U.S. state join a handful of states that allow the practice, a spokeswoman for one of the bill’s backers said.
California lawmakers in January unveiled the bill in an effort tearfully welcomed by a woman whose 29-year-old daughter, Brittany Maynard, famously moved from California to Oregon to end her life after she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
The legislation, which is modeled after an Oregon law, would allow adults suffering from incurable and irreversible illnesses that their doctors say will kill them within six months to obtain medication to end their lives.
The Senate voted 23-13 to approve the bill, said Kathy Smith, a spokeswoman for Democratic Senator Bill Monning, and the legislation now moves on to the state Assembly.
“Californians with terminal diseases should have the autonomy to approach death on their own terms, and I look forward to continuing this policy discussion in the Assembly,” Monning, one of the backers of the bill, said in a statement.
Oregon, Washington state, Montana and Vermont all allow some form of physician-assisted suicide.
Critics cite concerns that some patients might be steered toward assisted suicide if insurers deny or even delay coverage for costly life-sustaining medical treatments.
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