Advocates of medical aid in dying are cheering recent statements by Gov.-Elect Wes Moore in support of patients having the option.
The governor-elect was asked last week at a summit about his support for “bodily autonomy” in the context of end-of-life decisions. Moore spoke about his own experience with family members near death and said, as a state, Maryland should protect the ability for people to make “independent decisions about the suffering that they are enduring.”
Dr. Michael Strauss, president of Marylanders for End of Life Options and a retired internist, posed the question to the governor.
“I was really impressed with how much it was from the heart,” Strauss recounted. “Clearly he’d had personal experiences, where at least he knew about all the issues that surface when someone is dying in pain. Issues for the patient him or herself, and issues for the family and loved ones.”
Opponents of medical aid in dying cite religious reasons, or see it as doctor-assisted suicide. Legislation has not yet been introduced this session, but an “End-of-Life Option Act” fell one vote short of passing in the state Senate in 2019. Supporters hope to try again in the current term.
Medical aid in dying is legal in 10 states and the District of Columbia.
Recent polling shows broad support among Marylanders, with nearly 70% of both Democrats and Republicans in favor of legalizing it.
Donna Smith, advocacy director for the nonprofit Compassion & Choices in Maryland and D.C., believes legislation would pass this year.
“We now — for the first time in the history of advocating for this bill in Maryland — have a governor who has shown his support and put it on the record,” Smith emphasized. “We have a Democratic House that has already passed the bill in 2019, and an overwhelming Democratic majority in the Senate. We see no reason why this should not be the year to pass this bill.”
The Maryland General Assembly is in session through April 10.