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Offer the terminally ill more medical options

The law allows patients with fewer than than six months to live to request end-of-life drugs.

Contrary to Del. Susan McComas’ claims, it is factually wrong to equate someone who takes their life prematurely because they are depressed with someone who wants to live, but is terminally ill, and just wants the option to take prescription medication to die peacefully if their suffering becomes unbearable (“There are better options than suicide for the terminally ill,” Feb. 8).

In fact, the Maryland End-of-Life Option Act specifically says it does not authorize “assisted suicide.” It is based on 40-plus years of combined experience successfully implementing the practice of medical aid in dying in seven others states and Washington, D.C. The Maryland bill features 20 core safeguards and eligibility criteria.

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Similar safeguards in the 1994 Oregon Death with Dignity Act resulted in the Journal of Medical Ethics to conclude: “Rates of assisted dying in Oregon … showed no evidence of heightened risk for the elderly, women, the uninsured … people with low educational status, the poor, the physically disabled or chronically ill, minors, people with psychiatric illnesses including depression, or racial or ethnic minorities, compared with background populations.”

In addition, the Hippocratic Oath of “do no harm” means not artificially prolonging an agonizing dying process by allowing dying patients to decide when they have suffered enough.

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That’s why the Maryland State Medical Society has dropped its opposition to medical aid in dying, 65 percent of Maryland voters support it, and the state legislature should pass the End-of-Life Option Act.

Kimberly Callinan, Kensington

The writer is CEO of Compassion & Choices.

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