The Maryland House of Delegates approved a bill March 7 to legalize physician-assisted suicide.
The bill, which passed with a 74-66 vote, would allow adults with six or less months to live to obtain a prescription for life-ending drugs if a doctor has verified that the person requesting the drugs has the capacity to make the decision for himself or herself. The prescription also can only be self-administered.
The bill now goes to the state Senate.
Jennifer Briemann, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, said in a March 7 statement that the state Catholic conference urges the Maryland Senate and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan "to act swiftly to decry the action of their colleagues in the House and stop this dangerously flawed bill from advancing."
She said the discussion about the bill before the vote showed that many are concerned about the "health disparity and economic discrimination issues raised by the bill." She said members of the Legislative Black Caucus and many in the Democratic House leadership stand in strong opposition to the bill.
"We applaud their courage to stand up to the out-of-state interests pushing this predatory agenda," Briemann said.
The Associated Press said Hogan has described this issue as one "I really wrestle with from a personal basis." Hogan, a Republican who has battled cancer, told reporters in February that he would take a close look at the measure, if it came to his desk.
Physician-assisted suicide is legal in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington and the District of Columbia.