Medical Aid in Dying and the 2021 Session


Medical aid in dying allows terminally ill adults to request and receive a prescription for medication that they may choose to take to bring about a peaceful death. To qualify, one must be mentally capable, able to self-ingest the medication and have a prognosis of six months or less to live. 

Although each jurisdiction’s medical aid-in-dying legislation varies slightly, well-established eligibility standards and over a dozen guidelines are applied in each case. 

Ten jurisdictions currently authorize medical aid in dying: California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, Washington state, Hawai‘i, New Jersey, Maine and Washington, D.C.

According to a January 2020 Gonzalez poll of Maryland voters, 66% favor Medical Aid in Dying in Maryland.

How Does this Bill Work? To request a prescription for lethal medications, the bill will require that a patient must be:

  • An adult (18 years of age or older)

  • A resident of the state

  • Competent (defined as able to make and communicate health care decisions)

  • Diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to death within six months

  • Able to self-administer the medicationPatients meeting these requirements will be eligible to request a prescription for lethal medication from a licensed Maryland physician.

To receive a prescription for lethal medication, the following steps must be fulfilled:

  • The patient must make two oral requests to his or her physician, separated by at least 15 days.

  • The patient must provide a writ-ten request to his or her physician, signed in the presence of two wit-nesses.

  • The prescribing physician and a consulting physician must confirm the diagnosis and prognosis.

  • The prescribing physician and a consulting physician must determine whether the patient is capable.

  • If either physician believes the patient's judgment is impaired by a psychiatric or psychological disor-der, the patient must be referred for a psychological examination.

  • The prescribing physician must inform the patient of feasible alter-natives to physician aid in dying, including comfort care, hospice care, and pain control.

  • The prescribing physician must request, but may not require, the patient to notify his or her next-of-kin.

For more information, please contact the Medical Aid in Dying Task Force Chair Rev. Alexa Fraser at

The effectiveness of UULM-MD’s statewide advocacy work is impossible without the involvement of UUs and other Marylanders.


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