What to Expect in 2018
We want to wish a happy New Year to all of our coalition members who have dedicated their time and talents to defeat physician-assisted suicide (PAS) in Maryland. As we kick-off 2018 and approach the new legislative session, we are once again expecting another fight with renewed momentum from those working in support of this dangerous practice.
Over the next several months, we will again need your help to make sure we’re successful in our efforts. The 2018 session of the Maryland General Assembly will convene on January 10th and we expect to see legislation filed similar to past years.
In 2017, we saw more than 20 PAS bills filed in state legislature around the country and not one of them passed a bill to legalize assisted suicide. As we enter 2018, we have already seen a PAS bill filed for the second session in a row in Indiana that is being pushed by Compassion and Choices. This is the same national organization that has been actively working in Maryland to legalize PAS. And Indiana is just the beginning as we expect to see more and more bills filed in 2018.
Year after year in Maryland, we have consistently seen a bill proposed that fails to address any of the concerns raised in public hearings and various media. Our coalition has continued to address issues with the bill language that would pose a significant risk of coercion to our most vulnerable populations including the elderly and the disabled. We have continued to cite medical experts who say that a doctor cannot accurately predict an end of life prognosis, yet the legislation continues to include a 6-month prognosis as the qualification for PAS. Additionally, the mental health of patients who want to end their life through PAS has never been a priority for the proponents. Moreover, in a time when overall suicide rates continue to climb and studies show PAS can lead to a suicide contagion, the proponents continue to ignore this risk. The bottom line is that the bill contains countless flaws- most of which cannot be “fixed” legislatively, and the risks to society’s most vulnerable far outweigh any perceived “benefits” to the few who wish to have this option should they want to end their own lives.
Each session since PAS has been filed we have seen that a bi-partisan majority of elected officials in Maryland agree with these key points. In 2018, we will continue this important work to make sure our elected officials know the dangers of PAS.