ANNAPOLIS — In a political whirlwind on Thursday, Sen. Ron Young withdrew a bill that would have allowed terminally ill Maryland residents to legally end their lives with drugs prescribed by a doctor.

Young’s announcement came just before a planned vote in a Senate committee, which was expected to reject the bill.

The move throws the fate of a cross-filed House bill into question.

Delegate Shane Pendergrass, D-Howard, the House sponsor of the bill for the past two years, said she wasn’t sure Thursday afternoon if the withdrawal meant the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee would still consider the measure if it passed through the House.

“I’m not closing any options yet. I need to understand the options before I close anything off,” Pendergrass said.

The same committee often hears both a House and Senate version of a bill as it makes its way through both chambers.

Young, D-District 3, has said the bill, which has about 65 percent support in polls of Maryland residents, has enough support in the General Assembly, just not in key committees.

“I think it would pass the floor [in the Senate] and it would pass the floor [in the House], but the judicial committees hold it up every year,” Young said Thursday afternoon.

The bill would allow mentally capable, terminally ill patients with less than six months to live to obtain a lethal dose of prescription drugs to ingest themselves at the end of life.

Emotions ran high on both sides of the issue in bill hearings in House and Senate committees last month.

Support within the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee was clearly shaky at a hearing Feb. 25.

Committee members questioned Young for more than an hour about the particulars of the bill. Young was unable to address all of their concerns, at one point stating that he hadn’t read the bill “for a couple of weeks.”

Afterward, an email from one of his staff members indicated that the hearing “didn’t go well.”

Young said the probing by committee members was a legislative tactic to derail the bill.

“Very frankly, I think most of the specific issues that were brought up were total garbage. They were ... against it and they started picking,” he said.

Sen. James Brochin, D-Baltimore County, said at the hearing he was “in the middle” on the issue, and could vote in favor of the bill if it were amended.

Committee members suggested amendments that would have required mental health screenings before a person could receive a prescription, or suggested that the bill be narrowed to patients with a shorter prognosis, around two or three months to live.

As word spread on Thursday that Young would withdraw the bill before the committee voted against it, Brochin said Young “should try accepting amendments and then we might vote for it.”

Young said that was a way of deflecting opposition to the bill.

Had such amendments been accepted, “we would have lost everyone else,” Young said.

Withdrawing the bill, rather than letting it be voted down, might preserve efforts to keep the bill alive this year through the House version, Young said.

The measure also stalled last year, but supporters met in a work group over the summer and made changes to the proposed bill.

Many who opposed the bill — including some religious organizations and groups representing people with disabilities — questioned the morality of legalizing a form of suicide.

Supporters of the bill, which also included some religious organizations, said it would give people dying in pain a humane and personal choice for how to die.

“It’s hard for me to imagine why anybody would want to deny someone the choice,” Pendergrass said Thursday. “It’s very hard for me to comprehend that. I try.”

Young originally said Thursday morning that he wouldn’t likely introduce the bill again next year. Later, he said he thought it over and will continue trying.

“I am going to bring it back. I’m going to bring it back every year and have them sit through the hearings,” with the hope of changing lawmakers’ minds, Young said.

Follow Danielle E.Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines.

Danielle E. Gaines covers politics and government in Frederick County, splitting her time between Winchester Hall and The State House. Having grown up in Illinois, she lived in New York and California before settling in Maryland.

(33) comments

geoffsail

When a person tries to commit suicide or has suicidal ideation, the police and ambulance are called and they are resuscitated and/or committed for a psychiatric evaluation. Why are we now entertaining NOT doing the same thing for a person that wants to commit suicide? Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

ClareS

Disappointing. I hope a bill like this is brought up again. I guess many are squeamish about the inevitable.

shiftless88

[thumbup]

BradleyWilliams

We do need to read and digest the language of the Oregon model laws/bills before we expound on our positions.
They are riddled with loopholes that work together to eviscerate the flaunted safeguards.
For example how many times have you nodded your head when the proponents declared that the lethal dose must be self-administered?
Well, read the language of the law/bill and you will find that there is no means provided to insure that marketing point. For example “self-administrate” was mentioned 6 times in the 20 page Colorado HB 16-1054 and yet there was no means provided to confirm that the lethal dose was forced on not.

In fact what is provided in all the bills/laws is that there may be no investigations allowed after the death. This is a red flag to repair our public safety net.

According to their own records in OR and WA a dangerous public policy that is being established is a low bar of "medical standard of care" is poisoning for people that "fear" the loss of autonomy.
We are all at risk of abuse by these poorly composed laws/bills.
PS: What other activities in the US prohibit investigations?

BlueDawn666

Again I trust that people will make the right choice for themselves and what happens to their own bodies, why don't you?

shiftless88

The fact that in Oregon there haven't been any substantive reports of skullduggery I'd say it's doing okay despite your fears. I wish people would just say "I think this should't be allowed in any circumstances" and go from there rather than try to delay the law and make it useless through underhanded tactics.

DeDeuceCoupe32

I personally don't need Gods permission or Governments policies to assist me in suicide. Man up America and figure it out for yourself.

BlueDawn666

Well I should think that you wouldn't need an imaginary being permission to do anything at least I know I don't and the government should stay out of our lives and make our CHOICES easily assessable, especially when it comes to our own bodies.

DeDeuceCoupe32

Its kind of hard for government to stay out of your life 666, you are the gov. and you too are guilty of relying on gov. when it suits your needs.
Woman up and carry on soldier.

BlueDawn666

HUH???? that comment makes no sense can you clarify what the heck you are talking about? Thanks

Sallyforth

So, who are the members of these "key committees" that need to be voted out of office?

joelp77440

Shame. Lost a loved one and our family was hoping this bill would pass went it was first brought up over a year ago, could have shortened her suffering. Ron, if you ever need someone to testify on behalf of this bill, shoot me a email (joelp77440@aol.com). Boy, do I have a story and pictures to tell with all the right reasons for this bill to pass. If it ever see the light of day again.

BlueDawn666

Many who opposed the bill — including some religious organizations and groups representing people with disabilities — questioned the morality of legalizing a form of suicide.....The Bible, which most religious people claim they get their morals from, is the most immoral book of all time, so they are not ones to talk about morals. Again what gives them the right to impose their morals on me?

When are we secular progressives going to stand-up to the god-believer's? Why do we give so much clout to people that believe in imaginary beings, people that talk to a sky daddy? C'mom really? We need to stop giving religion so much clout and stop allowing religion to have so much control over us.

Again if the god-believer's want to die an agonizing death fine go right ahead, that would be your CHOICE, no one is going to force you to commit suicide....unless you are saying that you are weak-minded enough because of your god-beliefs that someone could force you to commit suicide,,,,well that's on you and your god-beliefs.

bosco

BlueDawn666, I find it interesting that good moral people will not let an animal suffer at the end of their life span, but readily put them to sleep, but don't think twice about making grandma suffer a painful and agonizing death because "it's god's plan".

BlueDawn666

Me too bosco. It's all about control, "it's god's plan"....is code for we are going to control your whole life for you. God-believer's love their animals more than their grandmas.

public-redux

bosco ~ Yes, It does make me wonder about -- and, frankly, fear -- their notion of morality.

jsklinelga

Bluedawn666
I am one of those people who talk to my sky daddy. My morals come directly from the teachings of Jesus Christ. This country's entire government structure was formulated by men that held the moral teachings of Christ in the highest esteem.

You often profess a belief in science. Can you name a greater, more just country that ever existed or exists now in the history of man. I believe in concrete proofs.

Assisted suicide or suicide, as far as I know, is not referenced in the Bible. Mercy and choice is, quite often. Tolerance and forgiveness are also espoused along with my favorite, Love thy enemy. i love my sky daddy.

BlueDawn666

I believe in concrete proofs..so why do believe in god then? What concrete proof do you have that he is "concrete"? Also your comment makes no sense....

rpkrauss

Well said JSK, I think many Christians forget that Jesus is the point of the Bible.

awteam2000

I think you mean the New Testament.

public-redux

jsk, I'm curious if you take an "originalist" view of the US constitution? If yes, do you also take an originalist view of your scriptures?

ClareS

I am Catholic and am aware of the Church's position on this issue, but I do respectfully disagree with it. People in biblical times did not have life support or other ways to prolong life so assisted suicide was likely not much of an issue, if it were an issue at all. Modern life has created modern dilemmas. These issues have many facets to them and the choice therefore should be the patient's to make.

bosco

To me, one of most telling items in this article is: "Young was unable to address all of their concerns, at one point stating that he hadn’t read the bill “for a couple of weeks.”"

Hadn't read his own bill prior to the committee hearing? What exactly are we paying him for?[huh]

johnqFrederick

maybe ron can focus on real issues, rather than social engineering his secular progressive beliefs

BTW, heroin is plentiful and it seems like the alternative the right to suicide crowd needs

DickD

We live to die another day!

public-redux

I was hoping somebody would make a play on my comment.

geoffsail

YES !!!

public-redux

We live to fight another day.

gary4books

I agree. But I do wonder at the mind of person who wants to decide for others.

b1sellers

Yes, especially since 65% support the bill. The Senate and House support the bill. But here we are. Moving ever closer to religion telling us what to do. Wonder when the women will be barefoot and pregnant and property of their husband's again? Maybe we will have honor killings too. Disgraceful.

ClareS

I agree. This issue is even more clear cut than the abortion issue. It should have passed without a problem.

shiftless88

DickD; no one is stopping you from setting your own broken leg but it is much better and safer to have a doctor do it. Should we pass a law saying that a doctor can't set your broken leg because it has been shown that people have done it successfully by themselves in the past?

DickD

The decision is always yours gary, what at issue is whether doctors can do it legally.

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