Monday, March 11, 2019

Maryland Moves Toward Assisted Suicide

Does is follow me around? First Oregon and now Maryland? Maryland House passes assisted suicide legalization
The Democrat-controlled Maryland House of Delegates moved forward legislation to legalize assisted suicide.

On Thursday, Democrats passed legislation that would allow physicians to prescribe lethal medication to patients who have received terminal diagnoses. The bill passed by a 74-66 margin, narrowly eclipsing the 71 votes needed. The bill had failed in three previous sessions, but received a boost when the state doctor's lobby lifted its longstanding opposition to assisted suicide and opted for a neutral stance.

Critics of assisted suicide slammed the bill as a threat to palliative and hospice care, which focuses on keeping those in pain comfortable until their natural death. Matt Valliere, executive director of the Patients Rights Action Fund, said the advance of assisted suicide could also close the door to vulnerable patients receiving life-saving care as insurance companies opt for the cheaper option of suicide pills. He called the bill "misguided," adding that "those already at a disadvantage in our healthcare system will see their options disappear."

"The safety of many in Maryland is in jeopardy with the passing of this assisted suicide bill in the House of Delegates," he said in an email. "People with serious illness, people living with disabilities, people of advanced age and the economically disadvantaged are all groups whose equal access to real healthcare will be threatened as a result of this dangerous public policy."

Proponents of assisted suicide, who prefer the term medical aid in dying, said its passage represents a step toward progress by giving those with terminal diagnoses control over their deaths. Compassion & Choices has spearheaded the effort to pass assisted suicide across the country. It has argued that the measures will not reduce options, but instead give patients more autonomy in how much pain they are willing to endure in their final days. The group's CEO, Kim Callinan, is a longtime Maryland resident. She praised the House, especially delegates who have crossed over to supporting the measure in 2019 and called for the Senate to quickly take up the legislation.

"We urge Maryland senators to hear the pleas from their colleagues and constituents and pass this bill now because terminally ill Marylanders need compassionate end of life care now," she said in a release. . . .
I'm of two minds. Clearly, there are people who would benefit. At the same time, the idea that family, and/or the state could coerce you into assisted suicide against your better judgement is not an idle threat. As Bob Hope is reputed to have said about homosexuality in California “I’ve just flown in from California, where they’ve made homosexuality legal. I thought I’d get out before they make it compulsory.”

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