Advocates are pushing lawmakers in Maryland to pass end-of-life legislation.
The measure, which has been turned down in the past, aims to give people with a terminal illness an option in their final days.
The advocates are working hard to make sure the legislation, which some call “death with dignity,” is introduced in Maryland during the General Assembly session this year.
“Whether they’re Democrats or Republicans, we need them to feel the pressure and understand it’s critical that they introduce this bill this session,” said Kim Callinan, CEO of advocacy group Compassion and Choices, which is pushing for the legislation.
But time is running out for bills to be filed in the House and Senate.
Supporters held a virtual press conference Thursday to urge lawmakers to support the legislation.
“For purposes of compassion, for purposes of empathy, to allow people to have choices,” said State Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher, D-Montgomery County, who supports the bill. “Ultimately this bill is about justice, allowing people to make their own end-of-life choices.”
To take advantage of the law, a person would have to have a terminal illness, have six months or less to live, be mentally competent and be able to self-administer the medication.
Advocates point to a new poll commissioned by Compassion and Choices that shows:
- 69% support having this end-of-life option,
- 57% personally want the option of medical aid in dying,
- And 73% supported it after learning that D.C. and other states have laws already on the books.
“Western Maryland, the Eastern Shore, Montgomery County, Baltimore County, Baltimore city -- Marylanders want the option of medical aid in dying,” Callinan said.
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Some oppose the legislation on personal, religious or moral grounds. The Maryland Catholic Conference is among the groups against these types of laws.
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“The taking of one’s life, even if a physician assists, is not medical care,” said internal medicine physician Marie-Alberte Boursiquort, M.D., in a YouTube video on the Maryland Catholic Conference website.
Supporters acknowledge it’s a last-ditch effort but hope this will be the year.
The legislation passed the House in 2019 but failed in the Senate by a single vote.