Maryland House Passes Medical Aid-in-Dying Bill

Our efforts now shift to urging lawmakers to approve the Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer Act for a Senate vote.
March 15, 2019

Following an emotional debate and years of effort by Compassion & Choices, the Maryland House of Delegates approved the Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer End-of-Life Option Act. It passed 74-66, three votes more than the 71 required.

Several delegates gave deeply moving testimony of their experiences with loved ones’ painful deaths and serious illness. Among them was Del. Eric Luedtke, who once opposed but now supports the bill after finding his mother, suffering from esophageal cancer, drinking a bottle of liquid morphine in an attempt to end her life. He tearfully explained, “I began to ask myself what right I had, as a government official, and even as her son, to dictate to her how her life should end? What right do any of us have to determine that for another individual?”

“The floor debate demonstrated that we are all only one bad death away from moving from oppose to support,” said Kim Callinan, CEO of Compassion & Choices and a Maryland resident for more than 20 years who lives in Kensington. “We urge Maryland senators to hear the pleas from their colleagues and constituents and pass this bill now because terminally ill Marylanders need compassionate end-of-life care now.”

“I applaud the House of Delegates for approving this palliative care option, as both a doctor and a terminally ill patient myself,” said David Meyers, MD. David, a family physician who lives in Takoma Park, was recently diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive, terminal form of brain cancer. “This vote gives me hope that this bill will become law soon so my terminally ill patients and I will have this peaceful option to die, if we need it.”

Public Policy Polling last month showed Marylanders support medical aid in dying by a 3-1 margin (66% to 20%), including majority support from African Americans (59%) and every other demographic group (Independents: 73%, Democrats: 70%, Republicans: 53%, whites: 69%, Catholics: 65%, Protestants: 62%, Jews: 67% and Muslims: 52%). The Maryland State Medical Society adopted a neutral stance on the bill after a 2016 survey showed most of its members supported it.

As always, though, our opposition has been vocal and organized, with several hundred people demonstrating against the bill days before the hearing during a “March for Life” in Annapolis.

The bill sponsors are the Health and Government Operations Committee Chair, Delegate Shane E. Pendergrass (Dist. 13, Howard County), and Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Vice-Chair, Senator William (Will) C. Smith, Jr., (Dist. 20/Montgomery County). Other supporters include the ACLU, Central Atlantic Conference of the United Church of Christ, League of Women Voters of Maryland, Libertarian Party of Maryland, Maryland Congressmen Elijah Cummings and Anthony Brown, Marylanders for End-of-Life Options, Suburban Maryland Psychiatric Society, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland, United Seniors of Maryland and WISE (Women Indivisible Strong Effective).

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, has not committed to a position on the bill, saying that he would give it careful consideration if it reaches his desk.

Compassion & Choices
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