MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Vermont Senate gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a bill that keeps intact the state’s 2-year-old right-to-die law by eliminating a section in the original legislation that would have stripped it of some patient protections next year.

Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Addison, the chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, said testimony before the vote indicated that the 2013 law was working well without any hints of abuse.

“We believe that the law is working as intended and is providing comfort, control and peace of mind for terminally ill patients in their final days,” Ayer said.

Oregon and Washington have passed similar laws by voter referendum, but Vermont was the first state to enact a law through its Legislature allowing terminally ill patients with less than six months to live to request lethal medication from a doctor.

The Senate bill must be given final approval before it is considered by the House.

During Wednesday’s debate, senators said that since the law went into effect six patients requested the drugs that could be used to end their lives. But it was unclear how many of them died from taking the drugs or died from their underlying medical conditions.

The provision that would have eliminated the patient protections was added during the original debate in 2013 so backers could get enough votes for passage. The protections include a requirement for a psychiatric evaluation if there is any indication a patient requesting lethal medication has impaired judgment and a 15-day waiting period between a patient’s first and second request for the medication.

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