The state House passed the bill by just one vote, 73-72, on Monday and the Senate narrowly approved the bill, 19-16, on Tuesday despite both chambers being controlled by Democrats.
The new law, known as the Death With Dignity Act, has been proposed several times in Maine yet failed in a statewide vote and seven times in Congress. It defines “terminal disease” as one that is incurable and will likely cause a person's death within six months.
Physicians will be required to get a second medical opinion and have requests made at least twice verbally and once in writing by patients before patients can be administered lethal doses of life-ending medication. Patients would also be screened for depression or other conditions that could impair their judgment in deciding their fate.
"The opportunity for someone of sound mind facing imminent death to avoid further suffering is viewed by some purely as an act of personal liberty, a decision with which government should not interfere," Mills said in a statement Wednesday justifying her decision to sign the bill into law.
“Assisted suicide public policy leaves those who already struggle to access health care – the poor, the terminally ill, persons living with disabilities, people of advanced age, and those living in remote areas -- at a much higher risk for abuse, coercion and mistakes,” Matt Valliere, executive director of Patients Rights Action Fund, told Fox News on Thursday.
The law safeguards against patient mistreatment and doctor malpractice by criminalizing coercing someone to request assisted suicide or forging a request for life-ending medication.
California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., all have similar legislation for medically assisted suicide in their states, according to the Death With Dignity National Center and the Death With Dignity Political Fund.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.