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British parliament overwhelmingly rejects assisted suicide bill

British lawmakers have voted overwhelmingly to reject a bill that would have allowed adults who are terminally ill to end their lives peacefully.

Lawmakers in the House of Commons voted 330-118 to reject the Assisted Dying Bill, despite public opinion polls showing increasingly broad support for laws that allow terminally ill people to end their lives peacefully and painlessly. Friday's vote was a free vote, meaning that members of parliament were not under any pressure as to which way to vote by their party's Whips.

The Assisted Dying Bill would have allowed competent adults to request a prescription for medication to end their life. Two doctors and a High Court judge would have been needed to approve each request, and eligible patients would have been limited to those with fewer than six months to live. In addition, patients would have had to be able to take the lethal dose of drugs themselves.

Physician-assisted suicide is different from euthanasia as the latter allows a doctor to end a patient's life. Assisted suicide is currently legal in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Canada (effective 2016), and the U.S. states of Oregon, Montana, Washington, and Vermont. Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Colombia.

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