With the strokes from three gubernatorial pens, Vermont on Monday became the fourth state in the country to allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients.
Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the measure in a state House ceremony in Montpelier, capping a decade-long effort on the issue in Vermont.
Vermont is the first state to pass such a law through the legislative process. Oregon and Washington enacted their laws by referendum; in Montana, it was legalized by the courts.
"This historic achievement is a political breakthrough that will boost support for death-with-dignity bills nationwide," said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee. The group describes itself as the nation's leading advocacy group for end-of-life decisions.