Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown Endorses State’s End-of-Life Option Act
Suburban Maryland Psychiatric Society Also Endorses Bill Supported by 62% of State Residents
Congressman Anthony G. Brown (4th Dist./Prince George's Co./Anne Arundel Co.), who was Maryland’s Lt. Governor from 2007-2015, today endorsed the Maryland medical aid-in-dying legislation during a bill hearing before the Senate Judicial Proceeding Committee.
The bill, the End-of-Life Option Act (Richard E. Israel and Roger "Pip" Moyer Act, SB311/HB399), would give mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live the option to get a doctor’s prescription for medication they can take if their suffering becomes intolerable, so they can die peacefully in their sleep.
“...only the person confronting their own mortality can decide if their pain is truly unbearable. This bill provides the dying person with the...power to decide when and how they die,” wrote Rep. Brown in a letter read by the End-of-Life Option Act sponsor, Sen. William (Will) C. Smith, Jr. (Dist. 20/Montgomery Co.), vice chair of the Senate Judicial Proceeding Committee during the hearing. “Maryland can implement this option in a safe and effective manner ... patients suffering from painful terminal conditions want and deserve the choice to direct their own care.”
Congressman Brown’s endorsement comes one day after a new Goucher poll shows Marylanders support medical aid in dying by a 2-1 margin (62% vs. 31%), including most voters in every demographic group surveyed: registered Independent voters (69%), registered Democratic voters (61%), registered Republican voters (55%), progressives (78%), moderates (63%), conservatives (47% support to 43% oppose), Whites(68%), Blacks (49% support vs. 40% oppose), other ethnic groups (62%), men (68%), women (56%), Montgomery Co./Prince Georges Co. (63%), Central Baltimore metro area (60%), and outside urban corridor (63%).
“The farthest thing from my mind is dying,” testified Rockville resident Carol Preston, a cancer survivor. “If I relapse or develop another cancer that robs me of a decent quality of life. If I am terminal, in pain, suffering – I want options. I may never use that prescription - but I take comfort to know it is available.”
“I am 82 years old and very healthy and strong. However, someday I will die, and I am terrified of what the end-game will be for me, and you should be also,” testified Rosalind Kipping, a Montgomery County resident whose 5’11” husband David died an agonizing death from cancer and weighed less than 90 pounds when he died. “We only get to die once and we should be able to do it our own way.”
There are 68 bill cosponsors out of 188 lawmakers. Other supporters include the ACLU, Libertarian Party of Maryland, Central Atlantic Conference of the United Church of Christ, Suburban Maryland Psychiatric Society, Unitarian Universalist Church, United Seniors of Maryland, WISE (Women Indivisible Strong Effective), Marylanders for End-of-Life Options, and Compassion & Choices Maryland, which is leading the grassroots campaign to pass the bill.
“...there is no cure for dying, and dying has become much more complicated,” testified Dr. David Grube, national medical director for Compassion & Choices, a former chairman of Oregon Medical Board and a retired family physician who has written prescriptions for medical aid in dying in Oregon. “Death is not the enemy. The enemy is intolerable terminal suffering...the residents of Maryland can trust your Maryland End-of-Life Option Act to provide peace of mind to people who are dying, and to their loved ones.”
According to a 2016 Maryland State Medical Society survey, 65 percent of its members supported changing the organization’s position to supporting the state’s medical aid-in-dying bill (50.2%) or adopting a neutral stance on it (14.6%). The society subsequently adopted a neutral stance on the bill.
“I strongly support this End-of-Life Option Act,” testified Dr. Seth Morgan, a Montgomery County resident and board-certified neurologist disabled with multiple sclerosis and wants the option of medical aid in dying. “Like many others with disabilities, I value my right to make independent choices. I find it both condescending and offensive when organizations attempt to speak on behalf of all of us with disabilities.”
“We believe that the processes outlined in the bill are in the best interests of patients, physicians and the community,” testified Dr. Cynthia Turner-Graham, a board-certified psychiatrist in Gaithersburg who is president of the Suburban Maryland Psychiatric Society. “In contrast [to the tragedy of suicide], individuals eligible for aid in dying have terminal, untreatable illnesses and do not suffer from distorted thinking or impaired judgment. For them, being denied the option of aid in dying is the real tragedy.”