ANNAPOLIS, Md. - In a twist on the Maryland Senate floor, a bill that would allow someone who is dying to request aid from a physician was defeated with a deadlocked 23 to 23 vote Wednesday.
Senator Obie Patterson, (D) Prince George's County, did not cast his vote saying he had not prepared himself to take a stance on the bill. He said his religion also played a role.
"I think I researched it," said Patterson. "I talked with folks and my decision today was to not cast a vote. What I did... my job. I did not relinquish my responsibilities to fully review all of my concerns on the bill, and at the end of the day, I could not cast a vote."
The bill would allow physicians to write a prescription for a life-ending drug for an adult who is terminally ill if they have less than six months to live.
The person would have to speak and write statements to the physician with witnesses to be considered.
Lawmakers said the vote was not an easy choice to make, resulting in an emotional day on the floor.
"I think if someone is in horrible pain and would just like them to call their family in and say goodbye and take something and leave peacefully...it should be their choice," said Sen. Ronald Young (D) District 3.
"I am very relieved, to be honest," said Sen. Michael Hough, (R) District 4. "It is a heavy-weighted subject, and I just thought once the state of Maryland would cross this bright red line, that doctors taking them from healers to eventually becoming killers, we should not do that."
Seven other states, including Washington, D.C., have legalized medically-assisted suicide also known as "death with dignity."
The Maryland House of Delegates had passed a similar version to the bill.