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PAS Movement Gearing up Nationwide

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Physician Assisted Suicide opponents in several states throughout the nation are gearing up to protect patient rights as proponents are already sending signals that they plan to make a strong push to legalize PAS this year. In Virginia and Delaware, lawmakers have signaled they will be filing legislation to legalize PAS, while advocacy groups in Maine and Massachusetts are developing their strategies.

In Virginia, the Joint Commission on Health Care completed a study in November of last year where they examined the possibility of legalizing PAS. Following the completion of the study, the Commission voted not to take any further action. Delegate Scott Garrett, who is an experienced surgeon, told the Virginia Mercury that he voted to take no action because he had witnessed people who had long-outlived their prognosis.

“The resiliency of the human condition is truly an amazing thing. Each one of us has certainly, many, many times in our professional careers have been faced with somebody who had no chance, they’re going to die in three months, and yet in fact it just wasn’t their time yet.”

Following this announcement, Delegate Kaye Kory said that she would not file any legislation this session to legalize PAS. However, after claiming to have received an overwhelming response in favor of legalizing PAS, Kory reversed her decision and now plans to file a bill.

In Delaware, State Representative Paul Baumbach has also told reporters that he plans to file legislation again this year that would legalize PAS. He previously filled a bill the last session, but it never made it to the floor for a vote due to a lack of support. He told Delaware Public Media that this year he is confident that he can convince enough House freshmen to support it.

“We came up extremely close, we were one vote short in the House in June, so it’s not going to require much more than where we already were just a few months ago. The 25 percent turnover of new members in both chambers I think is a real positive for this.”

Meanwhile, in Maine, a group is trying to get PAS on the ballot in the fall of 2019. This would not be the first time Maine voters have had to make a decision on PAS, a similar statewide referendum failed in 2000. Similarly, in Massachusetts, PAS advocates met in November to raise support for legalization in the state.

We expect to see similar efforts in Maryland, as we have already seen proponents preparing for this upcoming session. Now, just as much as ever, we need to make sure that our voices, as well as those of our friends, neighbors and colleagues, are heard by leaders here in Maryland, and throughout the country.

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