Del. Susan McComas: There are better options than suicide for the terminally ill

Mark Twain once said, “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” His comment is a bit brutal, but often the good intentions of the legislature result in unintentional harm.

This year will be the fourth year that the Maryland General Assembly hears House Bill 399 and Senate Bill 311: End of Life Option Act (Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer Act), also known as Death with Dignity.


I have heard all the arguments to support the bill, but I am unconvinced. I worry about those unintended consequences that would place the most vulnerable and defenseless among us in the heart-wrenching position of trying to avoid being a burden to their loved ones, a drain on family finances, and in horrible pain.

No one wants to suffer a horrible death to be sure, but there is something tragic about someone taking their own life. It telegraphs the failure of love and hope and belittles their uniquely wonderful and precious existence. Maryland has repealed the death penalty for murder, multiple killings and a massive terrorist attack.

Yet this bill would allow Marylanders in poor health, emotionally fragile, and vulnerable, to seek medical professionals to aid in their untimely death. More importantly, this bill sets the stage for families to encourage their elders to end their lives for self-serving and manipulative reasons far beyond the issues perceived on its face.

The bill is 23 pages with 49 sponsors in the House and 19 sponsors in the Senate. The advocates always point to the restricted use of assisted suicide in Oregon and Washington state. But one must remember that one of the chief proponents of the right to die is George Soros, the advocate of very liberal causes.

With hospice, palliative care and modern medicine available, there are better options than suicide for the terminally ill. What message is put forth to our children and grandchildren if grandparents opt to avoid a natural death? Would it be a message of no hope, no higher power, and no courage in the midst of adversity?

The Hippocratic Oath has been the mantra of physicians for centuries: Do No Harm. If this bill passes, the medical community would be working with the patient to end their own life. The physician would then become an active participant, providing the elixir of death to his patient in an already weakened and emotional mental state.

The hearing is next Friday in the Joint Hearing Room at 1 p.m. It is vital that those concerned about this bill provide the House Judiciary and the Health and Government Committees their perspective on this matter. This bill goes to the heart and soul of what it means to be human, free, and part of the community.

Just as the end of life is an issue, the beginning of life remains hotly contested. Roe v. Wade established the right to privacy when considering abortion. New York and Louisiana have just passed bills that allow the death of a baby up to and including birth. This is infanticide. The baby is a person with one-of-a kind DNA, fingerprints, a beating heart, and a unique soul. The defenseless little human feels pain just as we do.

Remember the little white baby seals brutally clubbed in the head … defenseless victims of man’s avarice. What an uproar was heard across the planet. Is the brutal death of viable pregnancies any less inhuman? Have we become so desensitized to the suffering of the defenseless that we can find an excuse in legislation to end the life of an baby human without regard for their precious life and considering only that of the mother?

Prior to session, Speaker Michael Busch pronounced that he wanted to amend the Constitution of Maryland to include the right to abortion.There are no quick and easy answers to these issues, and a 90-day session is not the proper venue to work on such vital and important ethical and policy decisions.

The text of these and other bills can be accessed by going to the Maryland General Assembly website — Go to the Legislation button and put in HB399 to read the bill.

Republican Susan K. McComas represents District 34B.