ASSISTED SUICIDE HEADED TO THE HOUSE FLOOR

For the first time ever, Maryland's full House of Delegates will take up the dangerous physician-assisted suicide bill, despite strong opposition. In a narrow 24-20 vote, the House Health and Government Operations and the House Judiciary committees voted on March 1 to send HB 399, the "End of Life Options Act," to the full House floor for a vote. The vote is expected early next week.

"At this very minute, Life is under attack in Maryland," said Jennifer Briemann, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference. "Never before has the bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide received a vote in committee and been advanced to the floor, so it is critical that those who support the dignity of Life in our state speak up now. We are grateful to everyone who has written and called their legislators in the past few weeks, but we need everyone to continue to speak up in a united voice with a clear message: Physician-assisted suicide is a danger to Maryland citizens and does not belong in our state."

Maryland's House of Delegates will take up the bill likely early next week. If the bill passes the House, it will move to the Maryland Senate for consideration.

The Senate is currently considering its own version of the bill, SB 311, but the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee has yet to schedule it for a committee vote. 

Out-of-state interests, led by Oregon-based Compassion and Choices, have targeted Maryland as a priority state for passing physician-assisted suicide. Current Maryland law makes assisting in the suicide of another person a felony punishable with a fine of up to $10,000 or one year in prison, or both. HB 399, modeled after the law in Oregon, seeks to make it legal to assist in the suicide of another with only a handful of inadequate safeguards to protect vulnerable persons from coercion, no safeguards to prevent an influx of dangerous and addictive drugs into the community, and no accountability for those who engage in the practice.