ASSISTED SUICIDE: Maryland Senate Ban Likely to Pass
The Maryland Senate yesterday, in a 27-19 vote, gave preliminary approval to a bill that would ban assisted suicide, paving the way for final approval next week, the Washington Times reports. The Senate passed a similar bill 27-20 last year, but time ran out on the measure. Proponents contend that legalized assisted suicide would make patients expendable in the eyes of the state or health plans who deem it a cheaper option than palliative care. But opponents argue that the proposed measure "could make it a crime to share or sell a book about how to commit suicide" (Hyslop, 2/26).
From the Bayou
In related news, a Louisiana lawmaker has introduced a bill that would repeal the state's three-year-old ban on assisted suicide. State Sen. Lynn Dean's (R) Death with Dignity Law (SB 128) is similar to Oregon's statute, and "has a number of safeguards and levels of permission by the patient to prevent indiscriminate and unauthorized doctor-assisted suicides." But opponents point to the overwhelming support Louisiana's 1995 ban received in the Legislature -- 99-0 in the House and 30-6 in the Senate -- as evidence that the measure stands little chance of passing. Kirby Ducote, lobbyist for the Louisiana Catholic Conference, said, "I don't think [Dean] can pass it. ... Many of those lawmakers are still around and the Legislature is just as staunchly pro-life now as then." Hemlock Society spokesperson Jim Joy said, "We are aware of the strong Catholic culture in the state. On the surface, I would not want to bet the farm on it ... but we will endorse it" (AP/New Orleans Times-Picayune, 2/26).