Lawmakers considered similar legislation in 2019.
Annapolis, Md (KM) An Aid-in-Dying bill is expected to go before the House Judiciary Committee in March. If it passes, it would let patients who are terminally ill and mentally capable, and have been told they have six-months to live, to ask a physician for a medication to end their lives.
A similar bill passed the Maryland House of Delegates last year, but fell one vote short of passage in the Senate.
Frederick County Delegate Jesse Pippy, whose a member of the House Judiciary Committee, says he’s opposed to this legislation, calling himself pro-life. But he says the bill has problems. “The bill, as it was written last year, would require the physician on the death certificate to put the person died of natural causes, which, obviously, if they took medication to end their life, you’d be asking a physician to forge a death certificate,” he says.
The legislation also says a doctor could refuse to write a prescription for patients who want medications to end their lives; and these individuals could have second thoughts if they receive the prescription to end their lives, and decide not take the medication. Pippy says this also presents a problem. “They have medication that is issued, and someone may decide ‘I don’t want to use it.’ Well, now we have lethal medication that’s just sitting out there,” he says.
In addition, Pippy says a patient could be diagnosed with having a terminal illness, and only has six months to live. But not all diagnoses are the same. “Someone brought up the fact that if you are suffering from diabetes in certain cases without medication, you could be given six months to live. But on medication, you could live another 80 years,” he says.
Supporters of the bill say it gives terminally ill patients suffering from intense pain a way to end their lives in peace. “Too many Maryland families have suffered while waiting for the legislature to act,” says Kim Callinan, President and CEO of Compassion and Choices, in a statement. The organization is leading the campaign to pass the End of Life Option Act. “The time is now to bring greater compassion and autonomy to the lives of the terminally ill,” Callinan says.
Compassion and Choices says it has lined up 69 co-sponsors of this bill, 16 in the Senate, and 53 in the House of Delegates.
By Kevin McManus