Away from the hustle and bustle

On the day of the U.S. presidential election, next Tuesday, voters at the polls in several states will also decide on initiatives on euthanasia, gay marriage and abortion. An assisted suicide referendum is on the ballot in west coast Washington state.

The bill provides that mentally sane seriously ill people with a life expectancy of no more than six months should be given the right to have lethal drugs prescribed by a doctor under certain conditions.Model is a law passed by referendum in 1997 in the neighboring state of Oregon, currently the only physician-assisted suicide law in the U.S. According to an Oregon government report, from 1997 to the end of 2007, 341 people took their own lives with a doctor-prescribed drug. Polls show Washington voters likely to vote for assisted suicide initiative. In 1991, however, they had voted 54 percent to 46 percent against an assisted suicide law.In California, voters are deciding on a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a life union between a man and a woman, thus eliminating same-sex marriage, which has been legal since May. The California Supreme Court ruled in May that gay marriage laws discriminate against gays and lesbians and violate the California Constitution. Since then, more than 11.000 same-sex couples married. Conservative Protestant, Roman Catholic and Mormon groups in particular are fighting for a ban on gay marriage.The gay marriage vote is a "defining moment" for the United States, evangelical group "The Call" warned on the ABC television network. California is considered a "trailblazer" for reforms across the U.S., they said. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger oppose the amendment, according to media reports. But both have stayed out of the heated debate. A close vote is expected.At ie in the state of South Dakota is a near-total ban on abortion. Abortions would be legal under the bill only if the pregnancy endangers the life of the pregnant woman, or if the pregnancy resulted from rape. In 2006, voters rejected an initiative to ban abortions without exception. Colorado voters may also vote on anti-abortion law.epd ege rks

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