Maryland state committees advance medical assisted-suicide bill

Maryland state committees advance medical assisted-suicide bill
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Two committees in the Maryland House of Delegates voted to advance a bill on Friday that would allow the terminally ill to end their lives with prescription drugs.

The House Health and Government Operations Committee and the House Judiciary Committee approved the End of Life Options Act, sending the measure for a full chamber vote next week, The Baltimore Sun reported.

The bill allows doctors to prescribe drugs to a terminally ill patient that would allow them to end his or her life.

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The patients would be required to be at least 18 years old and have a diagnosis of less than six months to live, the outlet noted. They must be able to take the medicine themselves.

They would be required to ask for a prescription on three difference occasions, including once in writing.

Maryland Del. Shane Pendergrass (D) has been sponsoring the bill for years.

“It means to me that all the people who have come down here over the years — some of whom are not here anymore — got what they wished for,” said Pendergrass. “Though they won’t be able to use it, other people will. This will help people.”

The Catholic Church has emerged as one of the fiercest opponents to medically assisted suicide. Those against the measure argue that life should not be ended prematurely, the Sun noted.

A companion bill is pending in the Maryland Senate, and Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has not indicated whether or not he would sign legislation if it passed in both chambers.

The Republican has said the issue is “one that I really wrestle with from a personal basis.” 

Medically assisted deaths are legal in seven states: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, according to CBS Baltimore.