Two Maryland Committees Pass End-of-Life Option Act

Approve Bill for Consideration by Full House of Delegates
March 1, 2019

Rev. Charles McNeill, a member of Compassion & Choices African American Leadership Council, and Compassion & Choices CEO Kim Callinan testifying at recent a hearing in support of Maryland End-of-Life Option Act.

Compassion & Choices praised the Maryland Health and Government Operations/Judiciary Committee for approving a medical aid-in-dying bill this afternoon for consideration by the full House of Delegates in a 24 to 20 vote.

The bipartisan legislation, the End-of-Life Option Act (Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer Act, SB311/HB399), would give mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live the option to get a doctor’s prescription for medication they can take if their suffering becomes intolerable, so they can die peacefully in their sleep. There are 68 bill co-sponsors out of 188 lawmakers.

“I thank the committee members who responded to my testimony to ‘please don’t let me languish away, fighting for my last shallow breaths,’” said stage IV incurable cancer patient Marcy Rubin, a Chevy Chase resident and former psychotherapist. “This vote gives me hope that the legislature will answer my pleas and pass this bill that would give terminally ill Marylanders the option to die peacefully.”

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, Libertarian Party of MarylandMaryland 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, WISE (Women Indivisible Strong Effective), and Compassion & Choices Maryland, which is leading the grassroots campaign to pass the bill.

“We thank Chairwoman Pendergrass for recognizing that terminally ill Marylanders need this compassionate legislation to become law as soon as possible to ensure they do not suffer needlessly at life’s inevitable end,” said Kim Callinan, CEO of Compassion & Choices and a Maryland resident for 20+ years who lives in Kensington. “After four long years of education and debate on this issue, Maryland residents cannot afford to wait any longer.”

A 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.

“I am grateful for the committee members who voted for this bill, so the full House of Delegates can consider it,” said David Meyers, MD, a family physician in who lives with his wife and college-aged son in Takoma Park and was recently diagnosed with glioblastoma, a terminal form of brain cancer that killed Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy. “The End-of-Life Option Act will empower people like me to make their own decisions with the support of trusted physicians about how they die.”


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