Health Highlights: Feb. 8, 2013

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  • Several States Considering Assisted Suicide Bills
  • Fewer Girls Undergoing Female Genital Mutilation: Report

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Several States Considering Assisted Suicide Bills

Bills to make physician-assisted suicide legal are being considered in a number of states as the issue becomes more prominent due to the growing number of baby boomers facing end-of-life issues.

Proponents say there is strong public support for permitting doctors to prescribe medications to enable terminally ill people who are mentally competent to end their lives, the Associated Press reported.

A number of groups, including the national organization Compassion & Choice, have been working to promote right-to-die laws.

The states considering bills legalizing assisted suicide are Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont. In addition, bills related to the issue are under consideration in Arizona, Montana, New Hampshire and New York, the AP reported.

Right-to-die laws were passed in Oregon and Washington after voter referendums.

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Fewer Girls Undergoing Female Genital Mutilation: Report

Fewer girls in Africa and the Middle East are undergoing female genital mutilation, according to new data released by the United Nations.

In 29 countries in those regions, 36 percent of girls ages 15 to 19 had been subjected to the procedure, compared with about 53 percent of women ages 45 to 49, BBC News reported.

Female genital mutilation typically involves removing the clitoris. It can lead to bleeding, infections and childbirth problems. Last year, 1,775 communities in Africa publicly declared their commitment to end the practice.

The new figures show that it is possible to end female genital mutilation, Anthony Lake, UNICEF's executive director, said in a statement, BBC News reported. He said that female genital mutilation is "deeply wrong" and that "we can and must end it to help millions of girls and women lead healthier lives."

The data was released on the international day calling for an end to female genital mutilation.

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