ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — There was an emotional debate Thursday as Maryland took a step toward allowing physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients.

Delegates took to the house floor for a vote. Many had their own end-of-life stories of family and friends facing death.

Delegate Eric Luedtke’s mother, terminally ill, tried unsuccessfully to take her own life.

“In reflecting on that, despite my personal hatred for suicide, I began to ask myself what right I had as a government official, and even as her son, to dictate to her how her life should end,” he said.

Delegate Luedtke voted for the bill. Delegate Nic Kipke, whose grandmother was given a short time to live, voted against it.

“What she went through was hell to get out of that deadly terminal disease called cancer,” Kipke said. “But she survived and I wonder if that option were there, might she have taken that option, and might we have lost the additional nine years of her life.”

The bill allows an adult diagnosed with a terminal illness, six months or less to live, who is mentally capable and competent to make an independent decision, to ask a physician for a prescription and take that medication on a strictly voluntary basis.

Anne Arundel County Delegate Sandy Bartlett had a potentially terminal breast cancer and a double mastectomy.

“It should be a very personal option on what you choose if you have the ability, the mental capacity, so, therefore, I voted in favor today,” she said.

The bill now goes to the Senate, and if it passes, to the governor.

Governor Hogan has not said whether he will sign or veto the bill

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