Sen. Justin Ready (right), sponsor of SB 561, speaks at a press conference in February for the introduction of Laura & Reid's Law. He is joined by Mark Wallen (center right, father of Laura and grandfather of Reid) as well as cosponsor Sen. Mary Beth Carozza (center left) and House sponsor Del. Trent Kittleman (left)
An amended version of Laura & Reid's Law (SB 561) was passed Friday, March 15 by the Maryland Senate. The bill now moves to the House of Delegates for consideration.
"Today's vote was a critical step in protecting pregnant women from domestic violence," said Therese Hessler, associate director at the Maryland Catholic Conference. "Pregnant women in Maryland are at increased risk of domestic violence because we don't have laws on our books that allow our prosecutors and our courts the ability to take additional action when pregnant women are violently attacked and their unborn children killed. While we would have liked to have seen the original bill pass, we are pleased that something significant is being done to protect Maryland women and their children."
As introduced, the bill would have expanded the state's existing fetal homicide law to allow for prosecution when a fetus younger than 24 weeks is killed through a violent attack on a pregnant woman.
However, the bill was amended to instead create an enhanced penalty of up to 10 years in prison that courts can apply when a pregnant woman is a victim of violence, regardless if her unborn child is or is not harmed, at the hands of someone who knew she was pregnant. Maryland's existing fetal homicide law, which allows prosecutors to seek an additional murder charge when a pregnant woman, who is 24 weeks or more, is attacked and her unborn child is killed, remains unchanged.
Sine Die, the last day of session, is less than 4 weeks away. The bill must pass both chambers before midnight on April 8 to go to the Governor for a signature.
A crowd of more than 1,000 students and teachers came to Annapolis on March 12 to advocate for Maryland's nonpublic schools
More than 1,000 students and teachers from nonpublic schools across Maryland gathered in Annapolis on March 12 for Nonpublic Schools Advocacy Day to ask lawmakers to continue funding programs like the BOOST Scholarship program.
Started in 2016, BOOST provides scholarships to students from low-income families to attend the nonpublic school best fit for their educational needs. More than 3,000 students attend nonpublic school through the BOOST program, many who attend Catholic school.
Governor Larry Hogan has proposed increasing the budget for BOOST to $10 million from the current $7.6 million. The Legislature has until April 1 to finalize the budget so exact funding for the 2019-2020 school year is unclear. But the state is now accepting applications for BOOST for the 2019-2020 school year.
Hogan met with students at the rally and said that he is calling on the legislature to not take scholarships away from Maryland kids, but to ensure funding for both public and nonpublic schools.
In addition to the BOOST scholarship program, students asked legislators to continue their support by way of funding for school safety, aging schools and textbooks.
Every year CAPE hosts Nonpublic Schools Advocacy Day and generally more than 1,000 students each year make the trip to Annapolis.
To view more images from the day, check out Gov. Hogan's Flickr.
Just days after the Maryland House of Delegates narrowly voted 74 to 66 to advance legislation legalizing physician-assisted suicide, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee is expected to meet as early as Thursday, March 14, to consider advancing its version of the bill, SB 311, to the Senate floor for a vote.
If passed, the bill would allow terminally ill patients to be prescribed a lethal dose of a controlled dangerous substance, which they would then pick-up at their local pharmacy and ingest without medical supervision to end their life. This bill, in addition to having no regard for the worth and dignity of every human life, establishes suicide as a societal norm, places large quantities of Schedule II prescription drugs into our communities with no measures in place for take-back or disposal, and leaves those suffering from mental illness, persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and our elderly at risk of coercion and undue influence by family members or caregivers.
Both chambers must agree on and pass the same version of the bill in order for it to be sent the Governor for a signature or veto, so there is still time to stop this dangerous bill from passing in Maryland!
Join the growing number of people speaking out against this bill by reaching out to your Senator and asking them to stand with those who oppose the so-called "End of Life Option Act."
SPEAK UP! TELL MARYLAND SENATORS TO REJECT PAS AND OPPOSE SB 311.
MCC to partner with The Arc Maryland, Hogan Administration, General Assembly to recognize World Down Syndrome Day 2019
The Maryland Catholic Conference will join with The Arc Maryland, and the Maryland Department of Disabilities to recognize World Down Syndrome Day 2019 on March 21.
World Down Syndrome Day is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. Maryland first recognized the day in 2018.
"On March 21, we will be celebrating the day with recognition by the Senate, House of Delegates, and the Hogan Administration in honor of persons with Down syndrome, their families, and the organizations that support them," said Greg Snyder, associate director with the Conference. "We are welcoming advocates, persons with Down syndrome, and their families to join us in Annapolis as our state joins with communities across the world to honor this day and to stand up for the inclusion and well-being of people with Down syndrome."
The date for WDSD being the 21st day of the 3rd month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.
To learn more about World Down Syndrome Day, visit: www.worlddownsyndromeday2.org.
Maryland is now accepting applications for the BOOST scholarship program for the 2019-2020 school year.
"BOOST has enabled thousands of students to choose the educational option best suited for them and we encourage families that are looking for assistance for their child to attend nonpublic school to apply as soon as possible," said Garrett O'Day, deputy director of the Maryland Catholic Conference.
The state will accept applications from now through midnight of April 17, 2019.
The Maryland General Assembly created BOOST in 2016 to provide students with scholarships toward attending a nonpublic school in order to choose the best educational option for them.
If you have a student, or know of another family, who attends Catholic school currently, or is interested in transferring from a public school to a Catholic school, please pass this along and encourage them to apply for a BOOST scholarship.
For more information on qualifications and instructions CLICK HERE.
To apply visit: www.educationmaryland.org/BOOST.
In a narrow 74 to 66 vote, the Maryland House of Delegates passed on March 7 the bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide.
"Today's vote by the House of Delegates confirms what we already knew — that physician-assisted suicide is not a partisan issue and those who are concerned about the health disparity and economic discrimination issues raised by the bill stand in strong opposition to its passage," said Jennifer Briemann, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference. "Among those in opposition was a majority of the members of the Legislative Black Caucus and many members of Democratic House leadership, and we applaud their courage to stand up to the out-of-state interests pushing this predatory agenda. We call on the members of the Maryland Senate and Governor Hogan to act swiftly to decry the action of their colleagues in the House and stop this dangerously flawed bill from advancing."
The vote sends HB 399 to the Senate for consideration. Both chambers must agree on and pass the same version of the bill in order for it to be sent the Governor for a signature, so there is still time to stop this dangerous bill from passing in Maryland!
No amendments were offered to the House bill, which has been introduced with nearly identical language in the state of Maryland in four of the last five years.
The Conference is asking that all attention now be turned on the Senate and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, which is expected to vote next week on the Senate version of the bill, SB 311. It is likely that the Senate Committee will consider amendments to its version of the bill.
To take action by emailing and calling your Senator asking them to stand with the 66 bipartisan Delegates who opposed HB 399, click the button below!
Mark Wallen addresses those gathered at Catholics in Annapolis on Feb. 21 about Laura & Reid's Law.
The Maryland Catholic Conference was among the advocates on March 8 who testified on a slate of bills that seek to protect life, as well as several bills that work to protect and enhance women's health in Maryland. The bills are all being considered by the House Health and Government Operations Committee.
"As people of faith, we know the importance of standing up for life, including the lives of women, who are sadly among the vulnerable in our state," said Therese Hessler, associate director with the Conference. "Today, the House will hear about numerous bills that would place common-sense regulations in place to protect life, including the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. They will also hear from powerful advocates like Mark Wallen, who lost two generations of his family in 2017 to domestic violence, about the need to put in place greater protections for Maryland's women."
Laura and Reid's Law was among the bills that the committee heard on March 8. Laura & Reid's Law seeks to protect pregnant women in Maryland and their families by expanding the ability of prosecutors to charge those who violently attack a pregnant woman and kill her unborn child with the charge of fetal homicide. Currently, in Maryland, an unborn baby must be considered "viable" in order for prosecutors to charge those who violently attack pregnant women intending to kill their unborn child, with fetal homicide. Viability is generally interpreted as 24 weeks gestational age or older. Laura and Reid's Law would expand the fetal homicide law to apply to unborn children as young as 8 weeks who die as a result of an intentional attack on a pregnant woman.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would save unborn children in Maryland from a grotesquely painful death by prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks, unless medically necessary for the mother. Research has shown that by 20 weeks, pain receptors are present throughout an unborn child's body and that nerves link those receptors to the brain, making the unborn child capable of feeling and reacting to pain. The bill would work to protect Maryland's unborn children and women from late-term abortions.
To read the Conference's full testimony on these bills, visit: www.mdcatholic.org/2019testimony
Truly compassionate care and death with dignity: How the Center for Successful Aging at Medstar Good Samaritan Hospital is transforming care at the end of life by putting the patient first
The elderly man was tied to his hospital bed, screaming, with tubes protruding in multiple directions. To then third-year medical resident Dr. George Hennawi, the scene was not only frustrating, but would prove life-changing.
The day Hennawi walked into the man’s hospital room, Hennawi had no plans to focus his career on the care of those at the end of their lives. Rather, he had recently signed up for a different fellowship. But the view that greeted him in that room that day would stick with Hennawi and become the catalyst that would change his career, and ultimately shape the future of geriatric medicine in Baltimore.
“I felt we need to do better for older adults. We are so focused on illness that we forget what matters to people. So much of the time we forget about the humanity in medicine,” he said from his office at the Center for Successful Aging at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore City, where he serves as director.
Started in 2013 under Hennawi’s leadership, the Center for Successful Aging works to provide comprehensive care for adults generally age 65 and older, some of whom are approaching the end of life, by employing what is known as person-centered care, or care that places the person rather than the disease first.
Hennawi said his vision was to create a place where older adults could get all of their services in one location from a team — that includes nurse practitioners, doctors, social workers, pharmacists, physical therapists, community health workers and specialists — which creates a plan of care based on the desires of the patient.
Dr. George Hennawi
For the first time, Maryland’s full House of Delegates will consider whether or not to legalize physician-assisted suicide. But there is still time to stop this dangerous bill from passing and protect life in Maryland.
“While the vote on March 1 was disappointing to all those who have worked hard to protect Maryland from the dangerous practice of physician-assisted suicide, the issue is far from decided,” said Jennifer Briemann, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference. “The more people who speak up now and tell their elected officials to stand against physician-assisted suicide, the better chance we have of making sure it remains out of Maryland.”
The Maryland Catholic Conference has made it easy to speak up and tell your delegates that you stand firmly against assisted suicide. The Conference is asking all people who oppose this dangerous practice, which would put our most vulnerable at grave risk, to write their lawmakers NOW and ask them to VOTE NO when HB 399 comes to the House floor next week. As a voter, your voice matters and HB 399 still can be stopped, but only if you make your opposition heard.
Please take action this weekend, as the House will likely be voting early next week.
Want to make sure you are kept in the loop on physician-assisted suicide and other important pieces of legislation? Register for the Catholic Advocacy Network and be among the first to know when your voice is needed! Click below to sign up, get engaged and take action.
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.