Medical Aid in Dying and the 2021 Session

Update:

Unfortunately, our sponsors have informed us that it is unlikely that our bill will be introduced this year.  While it was our goal to proceed and maintain our momentum, we were informed that our partners in the legislature will focus on tackling the COVID-19 crisis and bills proposed to address the impact of an inequitable criminal justice system. 

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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 DeathWithDignity@uulmmd.org.

Unfortunately, the bill sponsors do not believe that they could get it passed in 2021 and have decided not to introduce the bill this year.​