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PNS Daily Newscast - July 22, 2019 


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Right to Die Effort in Maryland Will Continue

Legislation to give the terminally ill in Maryland a legal avenue to "death with dignity" likely won't pass this session but the author says she'll bring it back until it does. (Sierra Black)
Legislation to give the terminally ill in Maryland a legal avenue to "death with dignity" likely won't pass this session but the author says she'll bring it back until it does. (Sierra Black)
March 9, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - More than a dozen states, including Maryland, are considering "death with dignity" legislation this year.

Bills in both the House and Senate were filed, but Sen. Ronald Young, D-Frederick, withdrew his because of a lack of support. Del. Shane Pendergrass, D-Columbia, authored House Bill 404 and said it probably will fail this session as well, but vowed to bring it back again next year. This was her second effort to get legislation approved.

Pendergrass said a person who's been given a terminal diagnosis should have the right to choose how and when to die.

"It's very emotional and it is very hard," she said, "and the hardest thing for me is watching people last year who came in and testified. They're not with us anymore. They died, and probably an excruciating death, and not the way they wanted to go."

Her legislation would allow individuals who have six months or less to live to receive life-ending drugs. They'd have to request those drugs three separate times, twice orally and once in writing, with witnesses. It would have to be signed off on by two doctors, and family approval would not be required.

Opponents worry that some people could be coerced or manipulated into ending their own lives. Others are opposed to the bill on religious or moral grounds. Pendergrass took testimony and said that during the hearing, one woman summed up what a lot of people wouldn't come out and say.

"She said, 'If you pass this bill, you will all burn in hell forever, which is much worse than any suffering that you will do on this earth,' " Pendergrass said. "I thought that was the most honest and succinct testimony that we heard all night."

Four states - Oregon, California, Washington and Vermont - have right-to-die laws in place. In Montana, it's legal by court decision. More than a dozen other states are considering legislation this year.

The text of HB 404 is online at mgaleg.maryland.gov.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD