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PETITION: Stop Physician-Assisted Suicide in Maryland. Sign the petition here.

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland, March 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — LifeSiteNews has launched a petition calling on Maryland’s governor and state senators to oppose the so-called “End of Life Option Act,” which would legalize physician-assisted suicide in the state.

The petition notes that the Maryland House of Delegates passed the bill on March 8 by a 74-36 vote. HB399 would allow, if passed by Maryland’s state Senate and approved by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, would allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to kill people who have been given six months or less of life because of a terminal illness.

The state Senate is reviewing SB 311, which is identical to the House bill and is likely to pass. Both the Senate and House are controlled by Democrats.

The petition points out 21 national organizations or more are opposed to physician-assisted suicide (PAS). They include the American Medical Association, National Council on Disability, and the American Psychiatric Association. Also among the 13 state organizations against PAS are the Baltimore City Medical Society, Maryland Psychiatric Society, American College of Physicians (MD Branch), ARC Maryland, and the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network.

In addition, Christian groups, including the Maryland Catholic Conference, are opposed to PAS. Of the practice, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore recalled that Maryland was the first state to recognize the “God-given right of religious freedom.” He added that all citizens have the right and the duty to “not only to bring the truths and values made true by faith into the public forum, but also to shape a society where God's gift of life is respected from the moment of conception until natural death.”

Summarizing the bill, the petition notes that no physician or other witness need be present when patients take a final lethal dose, which they would have picked up at a local pharmacy. Also, no psychological evaluation is required when doctors authorize a physician-assisted suicide. While pain is often cited by PAS advocates as a reason for ending life, pain is merely the sixth of the top reasons why patients request PAS.

According to the petition, accurate predictions for a six-month lifespan for terminally ill patients is nearly impossible. Some medical insurance companies see suicide as a cost-saving measure. For example, a doctor in Nevada reported in 2017 that when he attempted to transfer patients to California and Oregon for treatment, a medical insurance company suggested that he prescribe suicide. The insurer refused to cover treatment or transfer of the patients. Both California and Oregon permit physician-assisted suicide.

As Delegates debated Maryland’s PAS bill this week, Democrat Del. Eric Luedtke tearfully addressed his colleagues about his mother who died after a bout with esophageal cancer. He recalled that she unsuccessfully attempted to end her life with liquid morphine, but died days later.

Echoing oft-repeated explanations for abortion, he asked, “What right do I have, as a government official and even as her son, to dictate to her how her life should end?” In contrast, Republican Del. Kathy Szeliga, Minority Whip, told the Baltimore Sun, “We just think it is a slippery slope. You can look at Holland and what’s happened there, and they moved from physician-assisted-suicide to broadly euthanasia.”