Dear Friend of Life,
Well, the shock has worn off, the vote tallies are official, and it’s time to say a few words.
After their 4th attempt to introduce doctor-prescribed suicide in the state of Maryland, Compassion and Choices was rebuked today by the Senate which killed the bill on a second reading – an almost unprecedented action. For those who don’t understand how we got here, this is a brief history of the bill in 2019.
- The End of Life Option Act was cross-filed in the House of Delegates and MD State Senate as HB399 and SB311, respectively. District 28 Senator Arthur Ellis, a freshman from Charles County, co-sponsored SB311.
- HB399 was heard in a joint committee hearing with Health and Government Operations and Judiciary. Judiciary tallied an unfavorable report of the bill, but when combined with the anti-life bias of the HGO, the bill received a favorable report out of committee. Our own delegate, Debra Davis of District 28 voted NO in the Judiciary Committee!
- SB311 had a tough committee hearing but the committee waited to hold a vote until they saw how HB399 played out in the House.
- After over an hour of rigorous floor debate, HB399 passed the House of Delegates 74-66. All three District 28 Delegates voted NO on the bill. This was in direct response to our unrelenting citizen advocacy. Your calls to our representatives were non-stop! I received a screen shot in a totally unaffiliated homeschool Facebook group of an email from Del. Patterson that stated “Delegate Patterson does not support HB399” when the person was emailing Patterson about a completely different bill! She was so inundated that she didn’t even realize people were contacting her on other issues!
- SB311 had no action taken on it before March 15, which meant the House bill crossed over to the Senate to be considered.
- The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee went back to the table on SB311. They introduced dozens of amendments and ended up attaching 8 to the bill, including a mental health evaluation. The bill advanced to the floor after an 8-3 favorable vote in committee. One of those amendments was from Senator Ellis requesting to be taken off as a co-sponsor! This was in direct response to unrelenting citizen advocacy. We emailed, we called, and WE WENT TO ANNAPOLIS TO SPEAK WITH HIM.
- Yesterday, for some unknown reason, Senator Zirkin requested that the second reading of SB311, during which the Senate would just vote to advance the bill with or without amendments to a third reading, be held off until this morning. That gave us an additional 24 hours to sound the alarm and sound the alarm we did. I received many messages from people saying that they called Senate President Mike Miller and the aid who answered was responding that she was just tallying the calls in opposition. I got a message today from a friend who said the office was not expecting, but received, an absolute flurry of phone calls yesterday! That was US! I asked you to call and forward the message and you all did it and in a BIG way! I have no doubt the last 24 hours were a gift from God to touch people’s hearts in one final plea.
- Today, after another hour of passionate floor debate, the Senate Pro Temp called for a vote – a roll call vote – on the bill. This is not a typical move. Usually the bill would receive a favorable report just to go to a third reading at which time they would consider the amended bill as an entire delegation. But when all the buttons were pushed, the vote count was 23-23 due to one senator abstaining. A tie killed the bill. Senator Arthur Ellis kept his word to vote no.
The bill is dead – for now. It will be back next year and we will be ready. I truly hope you all know how crucial the team effort was on defeating this dangerous legislation. There is no one person who can claim victory – even one Senator voting the other way would have legalized physician assisted-suicide in some form. But we were united, we were unrelenting, and we stood up to be counted. Please, while claiming this victory and celebrating this huge win, recognize that in Maryland we can be heard. Pro-life legislation hasn’t been passed since 1993. I think 2020 is the year we mark an end to unabashed and barely restricted abortion in this state and tell our legislators we stand for LIFE and we want our laws to reflect that.