Vermont House passes aid-in-dying bill

MONTPELIER, Vermont (AP) - Vermont lawmakers approved a bill allowing doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients who request it, making it the first state in the United States to give legislative backing to assisted suicide.

The measure approved in a 75-65 roll call vote on Monday now goes before Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has expressed support for the legislation.

Three other states - Oregon, Washington and Montana - have similar laws but Oregon and Washington approved them through public referendums while in Montana a court decision had a similar effect.

The bill largely mirrors the law passed by Oregon voters in 1997 for the first three years, then shifts to a system with less government monitoring.

Supporters of the bill have said it will allow the terminally ill a measure of control over their lives - death with dignity - but critics call it physician-assisted suicide.