Issues to Watch

The Maryland State Senate Comes Historically Close to Passing an End-of-Life Option Act


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Jordan L. Cook*

At twenty-nine-years-old Brittany Maynard was faced with a life-altering circumstance.  Brittany Maynard, My Right to Death with Dignity at 29, CNN (Nov. 2, 2014), http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/07/opinion/maynard-assisted-suicide-cancer-dignity/index.html.  She was newly married and trying to start a family, but this dream was short-lived after discovering that she had brain cancer.  Id.  Brittany underwent surgery and the doctors were able to remove her cancer.  Id.  Unfortunately, the tumor came back more aggressive than before, and she was informed that she had only six months to live.  Id.  There were no treatments available to save Brittany’s life and she was left with dismal options to prolong her life: (1) receive brain radiation that would have “singed off” the hair on her scalp and left her with first-degree burns; (2) receive palliative medication at a hospice facility where she “could develop potentially morphine-resistant pain and suffer personality changes and verbal, cognitive and motor loss of virtually any kind[;]” or (3) uproot her life in California so that she could  receive medical assistance in dying.  Id.  Ultimately, Brittany elected to move to Oregon; where she was able to die peacefully and with dignity in her bedroom surrounded by her family.  Id.

I.  The End-of-Life Option Act

Oregon has been a leader in the aid-in-dying movement by passing its Death with Dignity Act in October 1997.  Death with Dignity Act, Or. Health Authority, https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/PROVIDERPARTNERRESOURCES/EVALUATIONRESEARCH/DEATHWITHDIGNITYACT/Pages/faqs.aspx (last visited Aug. 21, 2019).  Seven other states and the District of Columbia have followed in Oregon’s footsteps to allow terminally ill patients to receive aid-in-dying, so they can die on their own terms.  Editorial Board, Maryland Comes Agonizingly Close to Passing Death-with-Dignity Legislation, Wash. Post (Mar. 28, 2019, 6:50 PM), https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/maryland-comes-agonizingly-close-to-passing-death-with-dignity-legislation/2019/03/28/f7a5cef2-50bf-11e9-a3f7-78b7525a8d5f_story.html?noredirect=on.

This year, the Maryland House of Delegates was well on its way to pass similar legislation with House Bill 399, the Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer End-of-Life Option Act (the Bill).  H.D. 399, 439th Gen. Assemb. (Md. 2019).  Shane Pendergrass (D-Howard), a Maryland State Delegate, sponsored the Bill along with forty-eight co-sponsors.  Maryland, Death with Dignity, https://www.deathwithdignity.org/states/maryland/ (last visited Aug. 21, 2019).  This Bill would allow a Maryland resident to receive medical aid-in-dying if: (1) the individual is of “sound mind” and aware of the “associated risks [and] potential results;” (2) a doctor has determined that the individual is suffering from a prognosis in which it has been determined that the individual has six months or less to live; and (3) the individual is able to self-administer the lethal medication.  H.D. 399 §5-6A-03.  The Maryland House of Delegates passed the Bill by a 74–66 vote, and then it proceeded to the Maryland State Senate for approval.  Maryland, supra.

Senator William Smith of the Maryland State Senate sponsored Senate Bill 311, which was cross-filed with the Bill and had eighteen co-sponsors.  Id.  While in the senate, the Bill received various, substantive amendments: (1) doctors would face a risk of being sued “for helping patients die;” (2) patients would need to have a referral from a mental health professional; (3) patients would have to see multiple doctors of different practices areas; and (4) the physician would have to inform the patient of “alternative treatments” for their illness.  Ovetta Wiggins, No Aid-in-Dying in Maryland This Year: Bill Fails with Tie Vote in Senate, Wash. Post (Mar. 27, 2019, 6:41 PM), https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/2019/03/27/2d128d82-4ffd-11e9-88a1-ed346f0ec94f_story.html.  Many senators who supported the original Bill viewed the amendments as an attempt to “sabotage” the Bill to ensure that it would never pass.  Editorial Board, supra.  On March 27, 2019, the Bill failed because of a tied 23–23 vote.  Id.  Many senators were concerned that terminally ill individuals would make aid-in-dying decisions based on economic factors, which the senators deemed as not safe or free from “coercion.”  Dominique M. Bonessi, Right-To-Die Bill Advances In Maryland House, Wamu 88.5 (Mar. 7, 2019), https://wamu.org/story/19/03/07/right-to-die-bill-advances-in-maryland-house/.  Additionally, the religious views of some senators influenced their vote against the Bill.  Wiggins, No Aid-in-Dying in Maryland This Year, supra.

II.  Opposition to the Bill

Akin to the Maryland senators who rejected the Bill, many religious organizations are weary of this type of legislation becoming law.  Bonessi, supra.  Specifically, members of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, a Catholic association, expressed their disapproval of the Bill “during the March for Life in Annapolis [because] the [B]ill would ‘further undermine the dignity of human life.’”  Id.  Moreover, certain organizations believe that a bill that promotes “suicide” goes against their most sacred religious principles.  Wiggins, No Aid-in-Dying in Maryland This Year, supra.

Various medical professionals also disagree with the substance of this legislation.  See Bonessi, supra.  “Maryland Physicians Against Assisted Suicide, along with 13 other national medical organizations, have released statements in opposition to the practice of physician-assisted suicide because it ‘distorts medical ethics.’”  Id.  Medical professionals are concerned about protections to prevent vulnerable populations (e.g., seniors and disabled individuals) from being coerced into choosing aid-in-dying.  Id.  Without seeing lawmakers address these issues, many of these medical professionals will likely continue to oppose physician-assisted suicide.  Id.

III.  Support of the Bill

Many lawmakers in support of the Bill are focused on the concept of autonomy, which was evident from their heart-wrenching stories during the debates.  See Ovetta Wiggins, Maryland House Approves Aid-in-Dying Bill After Emotional Debate, Wash. Post (Mar. 7, 2019, 7:32 PM), https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/maryland-house-approves-aid-in-dying-bill-after-emotional-debate/2019/03/07/4690d178-3fa5-11e9-a0d3-1210e58a94cf_story.html.  Senator Kelley (D-Baltimore County), whose daughter died from cancer, chose to support the Bill because she believes that “no one should be able to decide for another person what level of suffering God wants them to endure . . . [, and we] should have some autonomy[.]”  Id.  Additionally, Delegate Luedtke (D-Montgomery), who witnessed his mother with stage three cancer try to end her own life because of her humiliation and pain, eventually supported the Bill that he formerly opposed.  Id.  He stated:

Despite my personal hatred for suicide, what right do I have as a government official, even as her son, to say how her life should end? . . . This [B]ill, in my opinion, is not the government putting its finger on the scales. It’s [the] government taking its finger off the scales.

Id.  The choice to end one’s life is a very personal decision, and those who are in support of the Bill believe that they should have the option, as autonomous beings, to end their own life and die a peaceful death.  Id.

IV.  CONCLUSION

The Bill marked the fourth time since 2015 that Maryland lawmakers have considered an aid-in-dying bill.  Editorial Board, supra.  Nonetheless, the Bill presented historical progress in Maryland as Senator Smith noted—“[n]ever before has [the Bill] come out of the House and never before has it come out of the Senate committee, and . . . had 23 senators go along with it.”  Wiggins, No Aid-in-Dying in Maryland This Year, supra.  Given this close vote in legalizing aid-in-dying in Maryland, there may be a different result the next time a similar bill is presented.  See id.

*Jordan L. Cook is a second-year law student at the University of Baltimore, where she serves as a staff editor for Law Review. Jordan is also a distinguished member of the Royal Graham Shannonhouse III Honor Society. This past summer, Jordan worked as a judicial intern for the Hon. J. Mark Coulson in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland and the Hon. Glenn T. Harrell, Jr. in the Maryland Court of Appeals.

 

Case Notes

Highest Case Note from Write-On 2019: State v. Johnson, 458 Md. 519, 183 A.3d 119 (2018)


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Taylor Bayat*

 The Maryland Court of Appeals reversed the Court of Special Appeals, which found that the suppression court erred in denying Respondent’s motion to suppress evidence of marijuana, concluding that the police officers had probable cause to search Respondent’s trunk after marijuana was found in the waistband of the front-seat passenger during a routine traffic stop  State v. Johnson, 458 Md. 519, 183 A.3d 119 (2018). (more…)

Announcements

CALL FOR PAPERS: APPLIED FEMINISM AND PRIVACY


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The Center on Applied Feminism at the University of Baltimore School of Law seeks paper proposals for the Twelfth Feminist Legal Theory Conference.  We hope you will join us for this exciting conference on April 2 and 3, 2020.  The theme is Privacy. As always, the conference focuses on the intersection of gender and race, class, gender identity, ability, and other personal identities.

We are at a critical time for a broad range of privacy issues. State level abortion bans have put a spotlight on the importance of decisional privacy to women’s equality. Across America, advocates are fighting for reproductive justice and strategizing to preserve long-settled rights. At the same time, our informational privacy is increasingly precarious. Data brokers, app designers, and social media platforms are gathering and selling personal data in highly gendered ways. As a result, women have been targeted with predatory marketing, intentionally excluded from job opportunities, and subject to menstrual tracking by marketers and employers. In online spaces, women have been objectified, cyber-stalked, and subject to revenge porn.  With regard to physical privacy, the structural intersectionality of over-policing and mass incarceration impacts women of color and other women.  And while a man’s home may be his castle, low-income women are expected to allow government agents into their homes – and to turn over reams of other personal information — as a condition of receiving state support. In addition, families of all forms are navigating the space of constitutionally-protected family privacy in relation to legal parentage, marriage and cohabitation, and child welfare systems.

We seek submissions of papers that focus on the topic of Applied Feminism and Privacy.  We will interrogate multiple aspects of privacy, including its physical, decisional, informational, and family dimensions. This conference aims to explore the following questions:  Is privacy dead, as often claimed?  If so, what does this mean for women? How can privacy reinforce or challenge existing inequalities?  How has feminist legal theory wrestled with privacy and what lessons can we draw from past debates? What advocacy will best advance privacy protections that benefit women? How do emerging forms of surveillance impact women? Can intersectional perspectives on privacy lead to greater justice? Who defines the “right to privacy” and what do those understandings mean for women? How is privacy related to other values, such as autonomy, anti-subordination, vulnerability, justice, and equality?

We welcome proposals that consider these questions and any other related questions from a variety of substantive disciplines and perspectives. The Center’s conference will serve as a forum for scholars, practitioners, and activists to share ideas about applied feminism, focusing on connections between theory and practice to effectuate social change. The conference will be open to the public and will feature a keynote speaker. Past keynote speakers have included Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, the late Dr. Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, Senators Barbara Mikulski and Amy Klobuchar, NOW President Terry O’Neill, EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum, U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner, Obama administration official Jocelyn Frye, and civil rights lawyer Debra Katz.

To submit a paper proposal, by Friday, November 1, 2019, please complete this form and include your 500 word abstract: https://forms.gle/k4EPNLaYmEvo4KHUA.  We will notify presenters of selected papers by early December. About half the presenter slots will be reserved for authors who commit to publishing in the annual symposium volume of the University of Baltimore Law Review, our co-sponsor for this conference. Thus, the form requests that you indicate if you are interested in publishing in the University of Baltimore Law Review’s symposium issue. Authors who are interested in publishing in the Law Review will be strongly considered for publication. The decision about publication rests solely with the Law Review editors, who will communicate separately with the authors. For all presenters, working drafts of papers will be due no later than March 20, 2020. Presenters are responsible for their own travel costs; the conference will provide a discounted hotel rate as well as meals.

We look forward to your submissions. If you have further questions, please contact Prof. Margaret Johnson at majohnson@ubalt.edu. For additional information about the conference, please visit law.ubalt.edu/caf.

Announcements

CALL FOR PAPERS: APPLIED FEMINISM AND PRIVACY


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The Center on Applied Feminism at the University of Baltimore School of Law seeks paper proposals for the Twelfth Feminist Legal Theory Conference.  We hope you will join us for this exciting conference on April 2 and 3, 2020.  The theme is Privacy. As always, the conference focuses on the intersection of gender and race, class, gender identity, ability, and other personal identities. We are excited that Dr. Leana Wen, President and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, has agreed to serve as our Keynote.

We are at a critical time for a broad range of privacy issues. State level abortion bans have put a spotlight on the importance of decisional privacy to women’s equality. Across America, advocates are fighting for reproductive justice and strategizing to preserve long-settled rights. At the same time, our informational privacy is increasingly precarious. Data brokers, app designers, and social media platforms are gathering and selling personal data in highly gendered ways. As a result, women have been targeted with predatory marketing, intentionally excluded from job opportunities, and subject to menstrual tracking by marketers and employers. In online spaces, women have been objectified, cyber-stalked, and subject to revenge porn.  With regard to physical privacy, the structural intersectionality of over-policing and mass incarceration impacts women of color and other women.  And while a man’s home may be his castle, low-income women are expected to allow government agents into their homes – and to turn over reams of other personal information — as a condition of receiving state support. In addition, families of all forms are navigating the space of constitutionally-protected family privacy in relation to legal parentage, marriage and cohabitation, and child welfare systems.

We seek submissions of papers that focus on the topic of Applied Feminism and Privacy.  We will interrogate multiple aspects of privacy, including its physical, decisional, informational, and family dimensions. This conference aims to explore the following questions:  Is privacy dead, as often claimed?  If so, what does this mean for women? How can privacy reinforce or challenge existing inequalities?  How has feminist legal theory wrestled with privacy and what lessons can we draw from past debates? What advocacy will best advance privacy protections that benefit women? How do emerging forms of surveillance impact women? Can intersectional perspectives on privacy lead to greater justice? Who defines the “right to privacy” and what do those understandings mean for women? How is privacy related to other values, such as autonomy, anti-subordination, vulnerability, justice, and equality?

We welcome proposals that consider these questions and any other related questions from a variety of substantive disciplines and perspectives. The Center’s conference will serve as a forum for scholars, practitioners, and activists to share ideas about applied feminism, focusing on connections between theory and practice to effectuate social change. The conference will be open to the public.

To submit a paper proposal, by Friday, November 1, 2019, please complete this form and include your 500 word abstract: https://forms.gle/k4EPNLaYmEvo4KHUA

We will notify presenters of selected papers by early December. About half the presenter slots will be reserved for authors who commit to publishing in the annual symposium volume of the University of Baltimore Law Review, our co-sponsor for this conference. Thus, the form requests that you indicate if you are interested in publishing in the University of Baltimore Law Review’s symposium issue. Authors who are interested in publishing in the Law Review will be strongly considered for publication. The decision about publication rests solely with the Law Review editors, who will communicate separately with the authors. For all presenters, working drafts of papers will be due no later than March 20, 2020. Presenters are responsible for their own travel costs; the conference will provide a discounted hotel rate as well as meals.

We look forward to your submissions. If you have further questions, please contact Prof. Margaret Johnson at majohnson@ubalt.edu. For additional information about the conference, please visit law.ubalt.edu/caf.

Announcements

CALL FOR PAPERS University of Baltimore Law Review Fall Symposium – 400 Years: Slavery and the Criminal Justice System


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In recognition of the 400 years which have passed since enslaved people were first brought to the U.S., University of Baltimore Law Review’s Fall Symposium will use the history of American enslavement as a lens to discuss slavery’s evolution and its effects on our criminal justice system.

 We invite paper proposals that fit within the overreaching topic of the symposium and explore topics related to the following questions:

  • How has slavery affected the foundations of our current day legal system, specifically focusing on the U.S. Constitution?
  • What impact did the transatlantic slave trade have on today’s African-American community?
  • What effects did the Reconstruction Period (i.e. convict-leasing, Jim Crow laws, etc.) have on today’s Criminal Justice System?
  • What criminal justice policies have been adopted that have adversely affected African-Americans (i.e. 1994 Crime Bill, etc.)?
  • What relationship, if any, does the present-day issue of mass incarceration have to the past institution of slavery?
  • What effect has mass incarceration had on the civil liberties of the African-American community today (i.e. voter suppression, employment/educational opportunities, etc.)?

We welcome proposals that consider these and related questions from a variety of substantive disciplines and perspectives. The symposium is intended to serve as a forum for scholars, practitioners, and activists to share ideas about the governing topic, focusing on connections between theory and practice to effectuate social change. The symposium will be open to the public and will feature a keynote speaker. The symposium will be held at the University of Baltimore School of Law on November 14 – November 16, 2019.

Abstracts of 250 to 500 words are due September 3, 2019.  To submit a paper proposal please complete this form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScjVVCAT_748Ei7UyrW_2Oi9-LHtQXpqjzRzjRGzXtJMwZLwA/viewform?usp=sf_link.

We will notify presenters of selected papers by late September. Authors who are interested in publishing in the Law Review will be strongly considered for publication. For those authors selected for publication, final drafts of papers will be due no later than December 9, 2019. Presenters are responsible for their own travel costs; the conference will provide a discounted hotel rate as well as meals.

We hope you will join us in remembrance of the individuals who suffered from the institution of slavery through the transatlantic slave trade and to discuss the impact that slavery has had on the current state of our criminal justice system and the present-day issue of mass incarceration.  We look forward to your submissions. If you have further questions, please contact the University of Baltimore Law Review at ublawreview@ubalt.edu or ubaltlawreview400years@gmail.com.