The Maryland House of Delegates is expected to vote by the end of the week on a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to obtain a prescription to end their lives.
Without debate, delegates on Wednesday moved the bill ahead in the process to the final vote.
Opponents elected not to attempt to amend the bill. Republican Del. Nic Kipke, the House minority leader, said he would air his concerns about the bill on the final vote.
This is the fourth go-round for the bill, which has failed on three previous occasions in the General Assembly.
It would allow a doctor to prescribe drugs to a patient that the person could take to end his or her life. The patient would be required to have a terminal illness with a diagnosis of less than six months to live. The patient would also have to be at least 18 years old and ask for the prescription on three separate occasions, including at least once in writing with witnesses. The person also would have to be able to take the medicine by themselves.
The bill has been the subject of lengthy hearings full of heartfelt testimony from both sides of the issue. Several hundred people demonstrated against the bill Monday night during a March for Life in Annapolis.
A companion bill is pending in the state Senate.