Congress may repeal assisted suicide in Washington, D.C.
A policy rider to a government funding bill approved by a House Subcommittee today would repeal D.C.’s Death with Dignity Act. The House Financial Services Subcommittee today approved the policy rider as part of the fiscal year 2019 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill after an impassioned debate.
Similar to laws in six states, the D.C. Death with Dignity Act gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live the option to get prescription medication they can take to end their lives.
Congressional conservatives argue that the law should be repealed because it is in conflict with anti-suicide statutes and may leave vulnerable patients at the mercy of doctors and relatives who wish to hasten their demise. Others think that creating an open season on assisted suicide will create an entire marketplace for the service.
“I worry that assisted suicide will create a marketplace for death,” Chaffetz said.
It already has.
Compassion & Choices, the oldest, largest and most active nonprofit working to improve care and expand options for the end of life in the United States, urged Congress to reject the policy rider citing multiple failed attempts to repeal the law and public sentiment about assisted suicide.
Congressional opponents of medical aid in dying tried to repeal the law in February 2017 during a 30 legislative day review period and during last year’s appropriations process, but they failed both times.
“It’s time for opponents of medical aid in dying to recognize that this issue has been debated and decided,” said Kim Callinan, CEO for Compassion & Choices, which led the campaign to pass the D.C. Death with Dignity Act. “The important news for D.C. residents is the law remains in effect, and we are working collaboratively with the D.C. Department of Health to make it easier for terminally ill patients to access the law.”
Medical aid in dying has been practiced safely with no evidence of misuse for more than 40 combined years in six states: Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California, Colorado, and Hawaii.
“Members of Congress from these states would be hypocrites if they supported this policy rider when their own constituents have this palliative care option to peacefully end unbearable suffering,” said Callinan. “If this federal power grab succeeds, it will set a dangerous precedent that could embolden congressional opponents to try to ban medical aid in dying nationwide.”
The D.C. Council approved the Death with Dignity Act on Nov. 15, 2016, by a veto-proof 11-2 margin and the law went into effect on February 18, 2017. Polling shows two-thirds of D.C. residents (67%) support medical aid in dying.
Only 6 states and DC have laws to provide immunity to all involved including predatory corporations and others
Correction please: Thankfully, like 44 other states no one in Montana has immunity from prosecution for assisting a suicide, no doctor, nurse, caregiver or guardian.
The promoters of assisted suicide have done you a disservice. The promoters of assisted suicide have worn out their thesaurus attempting to imply that it is legal in Montana. Assisted suicide is a homicide in Montana. Our Montana Supreme Court did rule that if a doctor is charged with a homicide they might have a potential defense based on consent. The court acknowledged it is a homicide in the ruling
The court did not address civil liabilities and vacated the lower court’s claim that it was a constitutional right. Unlike Oregon, no one in Montana has immunity from civil or criminal prosecution, death certificates are not legally falsified and investigations are not prohibited like in Hawaii, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and California. Does that sound legal to you?
Perhaps the promoters are frustrated that even though they were the largest lobbying spender in Montana, their Oregon model legalizing assisted suicide bills have been rejected in Montana in 2011, 2013 and 2015. The predatory corporation withdrew from their bullying legislative position in 2017. They simply did not try a fourth time and we celebrate saving lives every day in Montana.
What else have they spoken out of the side of their mouth? Oh dismissing reports of abuse like Thomas Middleton in Oregon. Or not providing a witness to the “self-administration “ that they used as a sales pitch to deflect scrutiny. Or falsifying death certificates to remain stealth. Allowing heirs to guide the process. See more at MTaas org.