BALTIMORE — The latest push to legalize assisted suicide for the terminally ill has failed in Maryland, but opponents are well aware that this isn’t the end of the fight.
When it was clear that it didn’t have enough support to pass, the sponsor of the End-of-Life Option Act, Sen. Robert Young, D-Frederick, pulled the bill March 3, ahead of the Senate Judiciary Proceedings Committee.
“It is a relief that this very dangerous legislation is not moving forward,” Mary Ellen Russell, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, said in a statement provided to CNA.
However, she added, “I think it important to remain vigilant and to know the proponents of this bill here in Maryland and around the country are very aggressive in pushing [this legislation], regardless of how much opposition there is against the bill.”
The Denver-based assisted-suicide advocacy group Compassion and Choices said that it will continue to push for the passage of the bill in Maryland and other states.
For her part, Russell is hopeful that “the very strong coalition of opponents” against the bill “will become engaged and involved.”
She and other opponents of the bill said that legalizing assisted suicide would have a negative impact on vulnerable patients, “in multiple ways that can’t be fixed by amending the bill.”
In their pastoral letter “Comfort and Consolation: Care for the Sick and Dying” the Maryland Catholic bishops urged respect for the dignity of each person, regardless of the state of their health.
Even if a person is terminally ill and suffering greatly, “euthanasia is always an attack on human life and a false compassion that is unable to see the abiding dignity of the human person in all conditions and circumstances.”
The Maryland bill would have allowed terminally ill patients who have been deemed mentally sound to obtain a lethal prescription drug from a physician. Similar legislation passed in California in 2015, after the highly publicized case of a terminally ill woman, Brittany Maynard, moved to Oregon to legally obtain life-ending drugs. Assisted suicide has also been legalized in Washington, Vermont and Montana.