by Thomas Valentine
A bill to legalize assisted suicide in Maryland went down to the narrowest of defeats in the state Senate this week.
As Lisa Hudson covered earlier this week, the “End of Life Option Act” had stalled out in committee in the Maryland legislature since it was first introduced in 2015. But an expanded Democrat majority in the House managed to pass the bill out of committee this year and bring it to the floor.
Much of the opposition came from Democrat legislators representing predominantly black districts who did not want to presume to play God. Allied with them was the Maryland Catholic Conference. Opposition was not just faith-based; concerns were raised about the bill’s provisions allowing persons to take home lethal doses of drugs like any prescription drug. Opponents also called attention to how the act would prey upon the vulnerable, potentially allowing insurance companies to cut off payment for medical treatment and tell customers to take the lethal pills instead. They also questioned how the same legislature which voted to abolish the death penalty in 2013 could also move to enable assisted suicide.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a pro-choice Republican, had not publicly stated what he would do if the bill reached his desk.
The House passed the bill 74-66, with 73 Democrats and 1 Republican in favor; and 24 Democrats and 42 Republicans voting against it.
The bill passed out of a Senate committee 8-3. In a dramatic scene in the Senate, the bill appeared to have the 24-vote majority needed to pass. But a Democrat changed her ‘yes’ vote to ‘no’ at the last minute, and another Democrat declined to vote, saying he “could not bring myself to move right or left on the bill.” One Republican joined 22 Democrats in voting for it, while nine Democrats joined 14 Republicans to vote against it. A majority is required for passage, so the bill failed in a 23-23 tie vote.
Supporters are vowing to bring the bill back again next year, as the Democratic Party continues to push death in state legislatures across the country.