June 12, 1800: Congress allocates $5,500 for the purchase of Fernald’s Island in Portsmouth Harbor. The island becomes the site of what is now Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, now located in Kittery.

Originally one of a close group of five islands, Fernald’s is merged through construction and now is part of the much larger Seavey’s Island.

June 12, 2019: Gov. Janet Mills signs a bill into law letting terminally ill patients obtain prescriptions for lethal doses of drugs to end their lives, calling it her hardest decision as governor so far.

She cites her awareness of the moral dilemma between seeking to establish a path to death with dignity and sanctioning state-sponsored suicide.

The measure, fraught with emotional testimony and debate in the Legislature, passed by a single vote, 73-72, in the Maine House of Representatives; and by three votes in the Maine Senate.

More than 100 people came to Augusta to speak about the issue. The Portland Press Herald cited one in particular, Terry Moore of Stetson, who has lost 30 relatives to a genetic form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. She said having watched their slow deterioration and ultimate death, she realized that if it happens to her, she wants the option of ending her life, even if she chooses not to use it.

Bishop Robert Deeley of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland takes the opposite view in a statement released after Mills signs the bill. “Allowing doctors to prescribe deadly medications to hasten a person’s death is a horrendous wound to the dignity of the human person,” he says.

Presented by:

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at islandportpress.com. To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]

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