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Bill Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide Reintroduced in Maryland

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 Suicide

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.

Current Law

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.

While 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.

Penalties

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 Bill

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.

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