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  • Rev. Alexa Fraser

Medical Aid in Dying

Updated: Jul 9, 2023

Care Note: This article includes a discussion about the death of a parent.

You may have noticed that you are getting a weekly email letter through December on each of the UU Legislative Ministries of Maryland issues. Your financial support is needed for us to continue to be the liberal religious voice in Annapolis for issues which are important to us and all UU’s around Maryland. As a volunteer UU advocacy organization totally supported by contributions, we rely on YOU to be successful.

Today, let's talk about the right that I--and most UU’s--believe should exist: bodily autonomy at the end of life. We call this "Medical Aid in Dying;" ten states and the District of Columbia offer it to their residents. The UULM-MD Medical Aid in Dying issue group supports the passage of the Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer End-of-Life Option Act. This bill specifies that any adult who is nearing death and in sound mind should have the right to end their lives with the aid of their physician.

But so far Maryland hasn’t passed that law.

Despite the fact that seven in ten Maryland residents support the option of Medical Aid in Dying, and six in ten say that they would personally want this option. Moreover, support is pretty evenly spread between parties, ages, counties, and religions.

And yet, we don’t have that option when the end is near.

UU's overwhelmingly support this type of law and have for decades. Back in 1988 – when George H. W. Bush and Michael Dukakis went head to head for the presidency, and the Iran Contra hearings were a recent memory – the UU General Assembly voted to pass a resolution supporting laws to allow those who were terminally ill with six months or less to live, to request a medical prescription to end their lives.

This bill is personal for me. My father ended his life in a horrific way in 2014, in response to his worsening Parkinson’s. At that moment, he may have had more than six months to live, but because he feared falling and ending up in a nursing home--where they would not let him end his life--he proceeded proactively.

It didn’t go well.

He tried pills; then he cut his wrists. Neither worked. Finally he used a gun.

I’ve heard people say “oh, his ultimate success proves that this bill isn’t needed.” I’d like to ask them to compare the experience of holding your loved one’s hand as they drift off to the great beyond to the experience my father had as he prepared to end his life with a gun. Additionally, imagine the distress my husband experienced walking into my dad’s room and finding his body.

Yes, this bill is needed and I knew it back then.

For eight years here in Maryland, we have not succeeded in passing this bill. UULM-MD has worked with our partner Compassion and Choices for many years to pass it, and we believe this is our year! Both the House and Senate leaders are open to its passage and our new Governor will sign it into legislation if it passes.

Please join those concerned with securing the right to bodily autonomy at the end of life at the UULM-MD Legislative Kick Off on January 21st from 8:30 to 1pm.

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