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'Right to die' legislation gets lengthy hearing

Posted: 6:52 PM, Feb 19, 2016
Updated: 2016-02-19 18:52:43-05
You're sick, and your doctor tells you you have six months or less to live, so what do you do? Lawmakers in Annapolis are considering whether Maryland should become the sixth state to pass "right to die" legislation.
 
A hearing committee heard emotional testimony on a House version of the legislation into the evening after starting at 1 p.m. Friday. The legislation gives the General Assembly its second look at the issue in as many years.
 
There is also a version in the state Senate that must also be debated.
 
 
The House bill would give terminally ill patients, deemed to be mentally competent, the option of ending their life. There are caveats before it could pass: Such patients would need to consult privately with their physicians before making the decision and lawmakers must also agree to establish a state database to track the number of times patients exercise the laws usage. 
 
Eric King, who traveled from northwest Baltimore to testify in favor of the bill, said he watched his wife die a painful death from cancer after she lost her battle in November.
 
"It offers a choice when all viable options for medical prevention and treatment are no longer working," King said of the legislation in an interview before his testimony.
 
Dr. G. Kevin Donovan, director of the Pellegrino Center for Biotethics at the Georgetown University Medical School, traveled from Washington to provide testimony
 
"The patients who want (the legislation to pass) think it is a good thing, but what about all the others who do not want this? They will get to the point where they really feel obliged to not be expensive, not be a burden, not drag things out for other people," Donovan said.
 
That same argument as to why it should not pass also comes from a coalition of Maryland disability advocates.
 
Senate President Mike Miller has taken no position on the bill.
 
The Catholic church, however, is deeply opposed to right to die legislation. House Speaker Michael Busch, who is Catholic, has expressed cautious support of the bill.
 
Gov. Larry Hogan, another Catholic, has taken no position.
 

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