Assisted suicide laws proposed for D.C.

Mary Cheh

D.C. has proved itself to be fairly progressive in its proposed legislation. But a new issue is coming onto the table that has been legal in some states and debated for nearly twenty years: whether or not terminally ill patients have the right to end their own lives.

D.C. Council member Mary Cheh introduced a “Death with Dignity Act of 2015” on Wednesday, which proposes that patients with illnesses likely resulting in death be permitted to seek medication to end their lives.

The law would give patients with six or less months to live the option of requesting this medication once it is determined that they do not suffer from any psychological disorders.

“When death is imminent, patients should be able to maintain their autonomy and exercise self-determination in their final days,” said Cheh.

Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Vermont already have similar laws to Cheh’s proposed legislation. The debate on giving the terminally ill the right to end their lives received national attention when Brittany Maynard, a Californian diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, decided to move to Oregon so that she could legally end her own life.

No matter what passes through the D.C. Council and what the consensus might be from residents of the District, Congressional review always destroys any real likelihood of debatable legislation passing. From attempts to legalize marijuana, to attempting to fund abortions for low-income women, it doesn’t look too likely that the District would join the four progressive states in the country.

While Cheh expects there to be debate around the issue due to religious and moral beliefs, it will be voted on in an upcoming session.

Photo: Adam Fagen via Flickr

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