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Assisted suicide bills gain traction in 6 states

At least six states are considering bills to legalize physician-assisted suicide, a reflection of a growing national shift in attitude toward a procedure that was once regarded more in terms of killing, than compassion.

Massachusetts, more than any other state, is seen as opening the doors to discussion, according to an Associated Press report. A ballot measure to legalize the procedure failed in the state last year, but it did bring about national discussion, AP said. Combine that with the increasing number of baby boomers who are facing ailing health, and the mood of the nation is ripe for laws that legalize physician-assisted suicides, analysts say.

"The Massachusetts initiative lifted the consciousness of the nation and in particular the Northeast region to this issue that there are other alternatives patients and their families should have an opportunity to access," said Mickey MacIntyre, chief program officer for the national advocacy group, Compassion & Choices, in the AP report.

States that now have bills to allow the procedure include Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Kansas and Hawaii — and again in Massachusetts, the AP reports.

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