Supporters push for death with dignity bill in DC

WASHINGTON — Doctor-assisted death is legal in five states, and could possibly become legal in the nation’s capital as well if one bill moves forward.

About 30 supporters of the Death with Dignity Act gathered outside the offices of the D.C. mayor and Council members on the steps of the Wilson Building to speak out about the issue on Thursday.

Among the supporters was Dan Diaz, who moved from California to Oregon with his terminally ill wife, Brittany Maynard, so that she could legally take life-ending drugs in 2014. California has since approved a right-to-die law.

“The residents of Washington, D.C. deserve better,” Diaz said. “They should not have to feel the need to leave their home like Brittany and I did, if they were to find themselves in Brittany’s predicament.”

The District’s legislation would allow patients with six months or less to live to request lethal medication from their doctors.

“I don’t know that I would actually take the medication,” said D.C. resident Mary Klein, who said she is terminally ill. “But it would give me great comfort if I knew that I had it.”

The bill’s sponsor, D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh, believes she will have the support of the Council, but says she has gotten no clear indication of where Mayor Muriel Bowser stands.

The bill is set to be discussed in committee next month, and could go before the full Council in November.

Some medical and religious groups oppose the legislation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, PA, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP sports.

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