The “Richard E. Israel and Roger ‘Pip’ Moyer End-of-Life Option Act,” will be considered in the full Maryland House of Delegates for the first time ever, after being sent to the floor for a vote by the House Health and Government Operations and the House Judiciary committees in a 24-20 vote on March 1. A vote is expected this week.

If passed, this bill would make it legal for adults deemed mentally capable and who have a prognosis of six months or less to receive a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs to end their life. While proponents of the bill have called it a compassionate way to end someone’s suffering, opponents of the bill have many concerns, such as the bill’s disregard for the dignity of life, the establishment of suicide a societal norm, the potential for the lethal drugs to be disposed of improperly, and the possibility of vulnerable people to be coerced into taking their own life.

In their written testimony in opposition to the bill, the Maryland Catholic Conference wrote, “we wish to convey our deep dismay about the message this legislation sends to those who might feel that their illness and the care they require is nothing more than a burden to their families and the rest of society.”

“At the heart of our ministry to the sick, the disabled, the elderly, and those without access to adequate medical care is recognition of the Gospel call to embrace the lives of those most in need of our love, care, and compassion,” they wrote. “There is no life that we consider not worth living, no person who does not deserve to be valued. While some may view this legislation as a response to the understandable fears about pain and loss of ‘dignity’ that someone diagnosed with a terminal illness might face, we insist firmly that the answer to those fears should be a demand for medical treatment that provides adequate pain management and excellent palliative or hospice care.”

The Maryland Catholic Conference, which is a part of the coalition called Maryland Against Physician Assisted Suicide, is urging Maryland Catholics to contact their legislators and voice their opposition to the bill.

“While the vote on March 1 was disappointing to all those who have worked hard to protect Maryland from the dangerous practice of physician-assisted suicide, the issue is far from decided,” said Jennifer Briemann, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference. “The more people who speak up now and tell their elected officials to stand against physician-assisted suicide, the better chance we have of making sure it remains out of Maryland.”

The Maryland Catholic Conference has drafted an e-mail to send to legislators, which can be found here. To stay up to date with the Maryland General Assembly, join the Catholic Advocacy Network.