After a debate marked by raw and personal tales of loss, the state Senate on Thursday advanced a proposal to allow terminally ill Californians to end their lives with drugs prescribed by physicians.

If the measure wins approval by the Assembly and Gov. Jerry Brown, California will join five other states in legalizing assisted suicide for dying patients. The legislation would apply to requests by mentally competent adults with six months or less to live.

The Senate proposal, titled the End of Life Option Act, is modeled after a voter-approved law that took effect in Oregon in 1997.

Although debated here for decades, the issue gained momentum after Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old Californian who was terminally ill, decided to move to Oregon last year to end her life rather than suffer pain and debilitation from an aggressive brain cancer.

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