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Assisted suicide measure appears headed for defeat

A divisive ballot initiative that would allow terminally ill patients to end their lives with medication prescribed by physicians appeared early Wednesday to be narrowly going down to defeat.

The ballot question has been the subject of a ferocious political battle. After a Boston Globe poll in September showed voters overwhelmingly backed the measure, support steadily eroded in the face of a last-minute effort by a diverse group of opponents, including religious leaders, antiabortion activists, and conservatives who aired their message in aggressive television advertisements and at church services. The concerted opposition campaign raised more than three times as much money as proponents.

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