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Del. Shane Pendergrass has sponsored a bill to make medically-assisted suicide legal in Maryland.
Del. Shane Pendergrass has sponsored a bill to make medically-assisted suicide legal in Maryland.

Although I could discuss my mother’s death at the age of 103 after two years of round-the-clock care in and out of hospice, or my mother-in-law who refused radiation and chemotherapy treatment for cancer and died at home after nine months of suffering, or my friend with metastasized cancer who wanted to die at home in hospice but was taken to a hospital where he suffered through many unnecessary and painful procedures in his last days — I won’t.

Today I write because I feel so strongly about the need to support end-of-life option legislation and present this in the context of what it is, an option (“Supporters of medically assisted suicide in Maryland say new legislators, sponsor increase bill's chances this year,” Jan. 29). Perhaps this is a strange way to phrase this since we are dealing with death — the issue on which we really don’t have options. But is that really true?

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The typical answer to what is considered as inevitable in all of our lives is “death and taxes.” There is a parallel between these two that needs to be explored as the tax deadline of April 15 approaches and as this end-of-life bill is considered in Maryland’s legislative session. As I collect all the receipts — credit card bills, various receipts of charitable donations, and medical costs of 2018 — TurboTax constantly reminds me that there is an option for the standard deduction, one that requires no records and simplifies it all. The choice is mine. I calculate (or rather TurboTax provides lots of guidance) the benefits and costs of itemizing my expenses or taking the standard deduction and then I choose what I want to do.

This standard deduction is similar to the option I want for the other inevitable part of my life if needed – the ability to end my life with dignity and at a time and place and method that is under my control. I want that the decision to be mine, not regulated by law other than the safeguards included in this bill, which are numerous.

Similar laws have provided the option for death with dignity for residents in many states for many years, with no incidences of abuse or problems ever noted. When polled about having a death with dignity option, a majority of Marylanders are in favor. It is only an option, for the dying person and for those providing the medication. No one is required in any way to fill or use the prescription. Numerous safeguards are included. he qualifications for entering hospice must be met, no one can be coerced and medication must be self-administered.

So when April 15 arrives, think about the inevitability of taxes and the availability of the choice of a standard deduction to simplify the process. The proposed end-of-life legislation ensures that individuals in Maryland have the right to an option that eases pain and suffering and allows choice for the other inevitability in their lives. Please encourage your elected representatives to support this important option.

Linda M. Lampkin, Baltimore

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