The recent legalization of assisted suicide in California and a number of
wrongful death suits have spurred support for broader end-of-life legal options for Maryland
residents. A bill that would have overturned the state’s prohibition
on physician-assisted suicide was tabled earlier this year after two committees
from the House of Representatives and the Senate decided not to send the
bill to the General Assembly for a vote. Groups in support of legalizing
assisted suicide plan on reintroducing the measure in January, 2016.
Physician-assisted suicides usually arise in cases where patients are terminally
ill. All but five states prohibit medical professionals from administering
euthanasia in such cases.
In Maryland, deliberately assisting a suicide is illegal, although the
withdrawal of life-sustaining measures may be permitted. According to
Maryland law, an individual may not:
• By coercion, duress, or deception, knowingly cause another individual
to commit suicide or attempt to commit suicide;
• Knowingly provide the physical means by which another individual
commits or attempts to commit suicide with knowledge of that individual’s
intent to use the physical means to commit suicide; or
• Knowingly participate in a physical act by which another individual
commits or attempts to commit suicide.
Withholding Life-Sustaining Procedures
In Maryland, if the patient’s physician and a second physician states
in writing that a treatment is medically ineffective, then the attending
physician may withdraw or withhold medical practices that are generally
considered as life-sustaining. The physician must also inform the patient
of the decision.
withholding life-sustaining treatments or procedures may be permitted in certain situations, those actions are
not considered to be suicides. In general, Maryland does not condone,
authorize, or approve of
euthanasia,and does not permit any deliberate act or omission to end life other than
to permit the natural process of dying.
Violation of Maryland’s anti-euthanasia law can result in a
felony conviction, which carries the possibility of a one year prison sentence and a fine
of $10,000. Additionally, evidence that a person has broken this law is
evidence of wrongdoing and opens him or her up to a civil wrongful death lawsuit.
The reintroduced bill will be written along the same lines as the laws
passed by California, Vermont, Oregon, and Washington. Essentially, the
law would state that a patient who is found to be mentally competent and
whose survival is predicted to be no more than six months would be eligible
for a prescription to obtain lethal drugs which could then be self-administered.
Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You
At the Law Office of Robert R. Castro, we understand the stress and regret
caused by a family member’s unexpected death. We can help protect
your family’s interests in a competent and compassionate manner
by representing you in a wrongful death or personal injury case. If a
loved one has lost his or her life, and you believe that there may be
a wrongful death or survival case, please
call us at 301-705-5253 for a free consultation.