The Maryland House of Delegates has passed The End of Life Option Act, which will, according to a previous article from Live Action News, “allow patients to request self-administered medication to end their lives.” The Baltimore Sun reports that this was the fourth attempt to pass the bill, and it was “an intense and emotional debate that brought some lawmakers to tears.” The CEO of Compassion & Choices — a national group that promotes assisted suicide — was present during the vote, according to the Sun. Debate consisted of some delegates telling personal stories of loved ones with painful terminal illnesses and some delegates reiterating the idea that it isn’t up to human beings to decide when they die.
The bill needed 71 votes to pass; it received 74 votes in favor, 66 against. After the bill passed, the bill’s sponsor, Del. Shane Pendergrass reportedly “smiled and fist-bumped” another delegate.
The Maryland Senate has yet to vote on a similar bill, but some senators believe the House’s passage could make the Senate’s companion bill more likely to pass.
The Sun notes that certain criteria must be met to receive the life-ending medication. “The patient must be at least 18 years old and have a terminal illness with a prognosis of less than six months to live. The patient must request the prescription on three occasions, including once in private and once in writing — provisions meant to prevent patients from being coerced,” writes the Sun. Those opposed to the bill have concerns that many vulnerable persons may still be coerced into the life-ending decision by physicians or family members.
While one poll has shown that 62 percent of Maryland residents support assisted suicide, a survey has shown that most people don’t know what assisted suicide actually entails. As noted by Live Action News’ Anna Reynolds, a majority surveyed believe assisted suicide “included ‘the stopping of medical tests, treatment and surgeries,’ ‘making a “Do Not Resuscitate” request,’ and ‘receiving as much medication as needed to treat pain and other symptoms.’ … [T]he former two items represent the refusal of medical treatment, which is already legal, and the latter is appropriate palliative care, which is, of course, legal.” In addition, it has been shown that frequently, when underlying depression is treated, the request for assisted suicide is withdrawn.
The Baltimore Sun notes, “Supporters said having the option of medically assisted suicide would allow people to maintain control and die without suffering.” But recent research shows that those supporters may be very wrong. As Live Action News’ Anna Reynolds reported:
Assisted suicide activists claim that death by assisted suicide is the relief of suffering and “death with dignity.” But a recent study examining assisted suicide methods shows that there are instances of pain and prolonged death that could involve untold psychological anguish. Researchers analyzing data from assisted suicide and euthanasia protocols in the Netherlands found that for a third of patients, death took up to 30 hours, and for four percent of patients, it took up to seven days to die after drugs were administered.
Currently, six states plus D.C. allow physician-assisted suicide, and 17 states are considering legalizing assisted suicide.
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