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Published On: Fri, Mar 29th, 2019

Maryland euthanasia bill stalls in state Senate as legislators are divided over assisted suicide

Maryland’s assisted suicide bill for allowing terminally-ill patients in Maryland to take their own lives fell one vote short on Wednesday in the Maryland Senate, stalling the legislation for now.

Under the “End of Life Options Act,” patients age 18 years or older who have been diagnosed with a terminal disease and a prognosis of six months or less may be prescribed drugs to end their lives, provided they make the request three times (one of which must be in writing, another in private).

The measure failed to pass the House in the previous three legislative sessions but passed earlier this month as a handful of lawmakers who said their minds were changed by hearing or witnessing stories of elderly loved ones who suffered at the end of their lives.

Opponents argued that presuming to decide when lives should end was playing God and robs families of unpredictable future experiences.

“Allowing doctors to prescribe lethal doses of addictive drugs with no way to make sure those drugs don’t end up in the wrong hands or on our streets is bad policy,” the Maryland Catholic Conference also argued. “And there is nothing in this bill to ensure that insurance companies don’t deny coverage of life-saving treatments and instead fully pay for these lethal drugs because it’s more cost efficient to end life than it is to save it.”

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee had tightened its language with a number of amendments, including raising the age to 21, requiring assessment of patients’ mental health, requiring doctors to give patients lists of alternative treatments, and removing the immunity clauses for physicians who offer the lethal drugs.

Yet the changes did not alter the fundamental nature of the disagreement, which found members of both parties on both sides.

“What does it mean to prescribe death as a treatment?” asked Republican state Sen. Robert Cassilly, who previously called the measure “fundamentally evil.” Democrat state Sen. Obie Patterson opted not to vote at all because “I’ve had experiences on both sides,” and “could not bring myself to move right or left on the bill.”

photo/ Gerd Altmann via pixabay

 

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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