Urgent need: calls and emails to support End of Life Options Act

WE NEED Calls and Emails TODAY!
End of Life Options Act (HB 399)
Received info this evening that a coordinated statewide effort from opponents slammed state delegates with phone calls and emails in opposition of HB399 in effort to shut it down. We need members who support this legislation to call/email Bagnall, Saab, and Malone and ask them to support HB399. All three are in a unique position as Saab and Bagnall are on the HGO committee and Malone is on the judiciary committee, these committees are deciding together to vote favorable or not, tomorrow.  I’m not sure if Malone or Saab will ever vote yes (Bagnall told me she was supporting the bill) but the desire is to level the playing field with phone calls and emails in effort to quell the retort that this is widely opposed. Widespread opposition is untrue anyway since statewide polling shows 70% of Marylanders support this legislation this session.
Please contact the 3 delegates TODAY. Ideally a combination of phone calls and emails works best, however, do whichever you are most comfortable doing. The best emails and contacts of support are personal ones that reflect your views. A template of an email and phone call are posted below for you to copy and paste if you want to. In addition a copy of a personal email sent to a delegate is below as an example, however emails can be three to four sentences, again send whatever you deem appropriate for you.
You can also contact Cathy Larner-Beckett, email at larnerbeckett@verizon.net, for examples of emails or phone call scripts if you are unsure about what to say. Legislators are keeping track of this legislation and all contact they receive in regard to it, we need them to receive favorable messages. The opposition is hitting our D33 delegates hard.
 
Delegate Heather Bagnall – heather.bagnall@house.state.md.us –  410-841-3406 | 301-858-3406
Delegate Michael Malone – michael.malone@house.state.md.us – 410-841-3510 | 301-858-3510
 
Email Template:
Subject: Support for End-of-Life Option Act (include personal variation)
[If you live in the target’s district begin with: I live in your district (my address is: ___________).]
I’m writing to urge you to vote for the End-of-Life Option Act (HB 399/SB 311).
[It’s preferable if you insert your own reasons in your own words, in a few short paragraphs or sentences.  But if you need it, use as much of the following explanation as you want.  You can send the same email to all the delegates. There’s no need to include a personal salutation (“Dear ____”) as it increases the amount of work and risk of error.]
I believe that government should not interfere with a person’s decision of how to live, and that includes how and when to die, providing the person is an adult of sound mind and within 6 months of dying of a terminal illness.  That concept is part of the Founding Fathers’ founding principles of our individual rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This includes our decision to end our life without having to suffer the pain and indignity of a terminal illness.
The just-released Goucher poll shows that about two-thirds of Marylanders support the End-of-Life Option Act.  That is consistent with national polls showing that about two-thirds of people support having the option provided under the Act.  The polls show that a majority of people who are religious support having the option provided under the Act.  The Act in no way would interfere with people’s religious beliefs or their practices.
Eight states, including Washington, DC, affecting about 20 percent of the country’s population, have enacted laws similar to the Act, without any reported problems.  This proves that the protections against patient coercion and undue influence in the Act are effective.  There are sufficient safeguards to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable among us, as proven by other states’ experience.
Experience in other states indicates that probably less than 100 Marylanders each year would use the Act, far less than one percent of the people who die in Maryland each year.
Maryland has a long history of protecting the rights of its citizens, please support this HB399 and its protection of the rights of the dying.
[Your Name]
Model Phone message for Delegates
 (you can use this script or whatever variation works for you, personal is always best but every phone call counts and do whatever makes it possible for you to participate)
My name is _______, and I urge you, Delegate __________ to vote in favor of the End-of-Life Option Act, HB 399.  Please preserve and protect the rights of the terminally ill to make their own decisions about when they are ready to die.  Please give them the option for dignity that a terminal illness and medical technology may rob them of.  Government should not interfere with people’s free choices.  Thank you for your support.
 
 
Copy of  Letter to Delegate from WISE Healthcare Huddle member as follow up to their testimony for joint House hearing on HB399 –
As I noted during my testimony to the joint committees yesterday, I am deeply concerned about the use of the word suicide to create sensationalism around a topic when so many people are suffering from mental illness and need to know that suicide is preventable and their lives are worth living. I completely respect everyone’s religious beliefs and do understand that for some people any comfort care measures, including morphine, lorazepam or a pill, would be against their core values, however the two issues should not be conflated. Death is a personal journey for everyone and I understand it must be difficult to legislate how someone else traverses this stage.
It was disturbing to hear opponents present how the other prescriptions used during comfort care do not cause the doctor to falsify death records but this prescription would, which is purposely misleading and self serving. You or I would never be prescribed that level of morphine or lorazepam as healthy individuals, and definitely not in tandem unless we were dying, because they often lead to a sedation that transitions to death. Comfort care is for that purpose, comforting the transition period and this medication would simply be another option during end of life comfort care planning. Patients at this time in Maryland at the end of their lives can choose to terminate medical interventions; all courses of medical treatments; necessary medications; sustenance; be administered comfort care prescriptions; etc.; and their death certificates always reflect the underlying condition as cause of death. How is this end of life option any different if the intent of comfort remains the same and the same result, which is the unavoidable death of the terminally ill patient, occurs? This prescription is not given to healthy individuals, those with reduced mental capacities, those that have lost all physical capabilities, or those with mental health issues as you are well aware due the protections to prevent those individuals from being taken advantage of as written into this legislation.
I am late to supporting this particular legislation. I held great reserve in regard to “death with dignity” bills and what that meant. I am always concerned about guardianship issues and how our aging population is treated. I was very concerned with someone having medical power of attorney over someone and using this on them, this bill safeguards against that scenario I believe. I have thoroughly researched this topic again this year and I am very comfortable with this particular legislation as I believe it allows those that are dying another option to consider during the final stages of life planning. I am also deeply concerned about all the testimony from people saying how someone else’s death was good for their family and watching someone die was unifying or inspiring and a chance to be together. Everyone can have that time together, have family bonding, pray together and spend those final days experiencing love and togetherness. Starvation, extreme pain, loss of control over your bodily functions, drowning in fluid, or suffocating during the final stages does not add to these experiences for anyone involved. Someone’s mental and emotional discomfort with someone else’s process of dying should not supercede the healthcare decisions of the person actually dying. The person dying has often fought for a very, very long time and wishes just as much as their loved ones surrounding them that this was not the end of their life. They too wanted to win their fight, they too wanted to stay and continue to enjoy everything life has to offer. Unfortunately that is no longer an option. I have recently sat with both my grandma (April 2018) and my uncle (three weeks ago) during their final days, they both chose hospice, and while the hospice care they received was excellent, it was not enough to combat all their suffering at the end. My family is Catholic and we support this legislation. As our loved ones lives were ending we wished for them the most peaceful passage possible from their earthly existence to their heavenly one.
I ask for you to vote favorable for HB399 and I have attached my testimony in full for your review. I look forward to hearing from you.
With gratitude,
NAME
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