Why We Won in Maryland
The coalition was excited to announce this month that because of our combined efforts in opposition to physician-assisted suicide (PAS) legislation in Maryland, this dangerous legislation had failed. After a strong group of our coalition members testified at the House hearing, it was apparent that neither the House nor the Senate had the votes in support and both bills were withdrawn.
Our diverse coalition raised a number of important concerns surrounding PAS in the hearing, media and directly to their legislators. Here are a few reasons why the coalition was once again successful at defeating the bill:
No major nationwide disability rights groups support PAS for important reasons. This bill lacks any protections for our most vulnerable populations including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the elderly. These populations are extremely vulnerable to financial abuse and coercion and this bill would do nothing to prevent that.
This bill would not include any requirement that patients receive a mental health evaluation before doctors can authorize PAS. We know that patients with a terminal diagnosis have much higher rates of depression and this does nothing to protect these patients.
The bill would allow patients to pick up 100 pills of lethal secobarbital, a powerful barbiturate at their local pharmacy. In states in which PAS is legal, many patients obtain but never end up taking these drugs. And in the midst of a public health addiction crisis, this bill does nothing to address the hundreds if not thousands of pills that will go unused.
Accurately predicting a six-month terminal diagnosis is next to impossible. In case after case, we have seen friends and family who have outlived their terminal diagnosis by months to years. And in a world of increasingly new medical advancements, we are seeing life changing discoveries every day.
This is the third year in a row that the bill in Maryland has failed and it’s because of these strong messages and efforts by our diverse group of coalition members. While we know we still have work to do to make sure PAS does not pass in the future, for now we are proud of this victory.