The physician-assisted suicide bill in the Maryland State Senate (SB 354) was withdrawn from consideration by lead sponsor Senator Guy Guzzone (D-District 13, Howard County) on March 3, and the bill’s March 7 hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee has been canceled. A majority of senators on that committee reportedly opposed the bill.

This action effectively ends the chance of this issue passing in Maryland for the third straight year, although the Maryland Catholic Conference will be monitoring the House bill (HB 370) until the last day of session to make sure it does not pass. Funded by the out-of-state, multi-million dollar entity Compassion & Choices, the legislation would allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients who want to end their lives.

The Maryland Catholic Conference is part of the Maryland Against Physician Assisted Suicide coalition (http://stopassistedsuicidemd.org/), a diverse group of healthcare professionals, disability rights advocates, mental health professionals, advocates for senior citizens, and members of faith communities that oppose the legislation.

“It is a relief that this very dangerous bill is not moving forward again this year,” said Jennifer Briemann, the respect for life lobbyist for the Maryland Catholic Conference.

In the wake of the bill’s apparent demise, Briemann expressed gratitude “to all of our coalition partners for working tirelessly on behalf of the intellectually and developmentally disabled, the elderly, the sick, and the vulnerable to make sure this legislation was seen for what it is, a fatally flawed bill. This victory would not have been possible without the support of the Knights of Columbus and parishes from around the state, whose grassroots advocacy efforts proved yet again that Marylanders strongly believe our state is not a state where this practice belongs."