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More than a dozen states, plus the District of Columbia, are considering physician-assisted dying legislation this year.

The laws would allow mentally fit, terminally ill patients age 18 and older, whose doctors say they have six months or less to live, to request lethal drugs. The prescribing doctors need not be present when the fatal dose is taken.

Oregon was the first state to implement its Death with Dignity Act in 1997 after voters approved the law in 1994, and two other states — Vermont and Washington — now allow for similar medically assisted dying. Courts in Montana and New Mexico have also modified the law to a certain extent.

“The movement has reached a threshold where it is unstoppable,” said President Barbara Coombs Lee of Compassion & Choices.

The issue of medically assisted death rose to prominence last year with the case of Brittany Maynard, 29, who was told she had six months to live after being diagnosed with brain cancer. Maynard was a strong advocate for Death with Dignity, and when she learned of her grim prognosis, she moved from her home state of California to Oregon where terminally ill patients who are residents are allowed to end their own lives.

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