ASSISTED SUICIDE: MD Governor Expected to Sign Ban
Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening (D) is expected today to sign an assisted-suicide ban, shrugging off a campaign launched by opponents of the ban and dismaying some of his "staunchest allies in the Legislature," the Baltimore Sun reports. Although the governor originally said he would sign the bill, his position was "put in doubt" as opponents of the ban aggressively lobbied against it. But Glendening released a statement yesterday saying he would in fact sign the measure, although "he had reservations about a section ... that protects medical personnel from prosecution for their pain-relief efforts, but does not shield firefighters and emergency medical personnel" (Dresser, 5/27).
What About Relief from Pain, Suffering?
Glendening said that his office would work to create an awareness campaign to inform health care workers that they can "prescribe sufficient pain medicine without being subject to criminal penalties even if the medicine hastens a patient's death." In addition, House Speaker Casper Taylor (D) and Senate President Thomas Miller (D) have said they will support an amendment next session to extend the protection to emergency medical providers (AP/Washington Times, 5/27). Del. Frank Turner, who had rounded up delegates' signatures in a petition urging Glendening to veto the bill, said that the penalties -- one year in prison and a $10,000 fine -- could have a "chilling effect" on those trying to ease the suffering of the terminally ill. Richard Dowling of the Maryland Catholic Conference countered, "We're really confident that this is going to be liberating for physicians who have heretofore looked over their shoulders when they administered appropriate pain medication" (Sun, 5/27).