Vaad HaRabbanim, the Rabbinical Council of Greater Baltimore, released a statement March 11 opposing the End-of-Life Option Act, legislation now moving through the General Assembly that would create a process through which an individual could request and receive aid in dying from the individual’s attending physician.
“We are writing with deep dismay over the passage in the Maryland House of Delegates of HB 399, legalizing physician assisted suicide,” the rabbinical council statement said. “As Jews and Americans, we live with a profound value for human life. Our tradition teaches us to put aside virtually any other value when a human life — of any quality or potential duration — may be at stake. And while under certain circumstances we may choose not to act aggressively to prolong a life of suffering, we have always considered the active termination of life to be absolutely off limits.”
The bill passed the House March 7 by a vote of 74 to 66. The legislation has moved to the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee.
[pullquote]“We have always considered the active termination of life to be absolutely off limits.”[/pullquote]
“The bill exempts, from civil or criminal liability, State-licensed physicians who, in compliance with specified safeguards, dispense or prescribe a lethal dose of medication following a request made by a qualified individual,” reads the bill’s summary. “Criminal penalties are established for violating specified provisions of the bill.”
The council warned of the “dangers of the slippery slope” that it said the proposed law would create, including influencing the growing suicide rate among young people and that terminally ill people may feel guilty burdening others with ongoing care.
In addition, the council expressed disappointment in the District 11 and 41 delegates, all of whom voted for the bill, except the 41st’s Del. Dalya Attar, an Orthodox lawmaker.