ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland lawmakers will again wrestle with the decision to live or die, with a bill to give terminally ill patients the choice to end their lives is back in the general assembly.
This is the fourth time this legislation has been introduced.
The Maryland Catholic conference is disappointed by the announcement today by Colorado-based compassion and choices that it will again push to legalize the dangerous practice of physician-assisted suicide here in Maryland.
“The Maryland Catholic Conference is disappointed by the announcement today by Colorado-based Compassion and Choices that it will again push to legalize the dangerous practice of physician-assisted suicide here in Maryland.
“Our state has repeatedly rejected this group’s agenda and with good reason: assisted-suicide threatens Maryland’s most vulnerable, putting those with disabilities, the elderly, our veterans, and those battling opioid addiction at grave risk. As Catholics we stand firm with our partners across the state to strongly oppose this proposal.
“Recently, our Maryland Veterans Caucus announced that addressing mental health and preventing veteran’s suicide are among its top priorities. Today, our state was asked to abandon those veterans who struggle with mental illness, and rather than expand services and help, to legalize physician-assisted suicide as an option. We call on members of the Maryland Veterans Caucus to stand with us, to recognize the danger that legalizing physician-assisted suicide poses to our veterans and other populations, and to defend our state against this practice.
“It is impossible to legislate proper safeguards to protect Maryland from the dangers of legalized physician-assisted suicide. Nothing can ensure the large doses of lethal drugs don’t end up in the wrong hands and undermine efforts to curb our prescription drug crisis. Nothing can ensure that those with disabilities are not coerced into taking their own lives. And nothing can ensure that our veterans and others who battle mental illness are not denied help in favor of a lethal prescription.”
For cancer survivor Alexa Fraser, it’s personal.
“I’m A-plus right now but if that was to go in a bad direction I will not die in horrific pain,” she said. “I would make the choice,”
The end of life option act applies to adult patients who are terminally ill and diagnosed with six months or less to live.
They must be mentally capable, receive prescribed medication and its use is strictly voluntary.
Howard County Delegate Shane Pendergrass is the sponsor of the bill.
“I just believe that people as they have become aware of this issue they start looking at the people around them and they see that one bad death and I believe we are all one bad death away from supporting this bill,” she said.
Montgomery County Sen. William Smith is co-sponsor of the bill.
“I had an uncle that had colon cancer and maybe this was something he would have availed himself of if he’d had that option,” said Smith.
Some are already deciding what they would do.
“Not easily, not casually, not early but it is my choice to make and that is what I would do,” Fraser said.
Opponents have argued that some of the terminally ill might be coerced into the taking their lives.
To address that a provision in the bill requires the patients to have private consultations with the doctor.
No hearing date has been set yet.