Right-to-die bill moves forward in DC Council

WASHINGTON — Physician-assisted suicide has moved a step closer to becoming law in D.C.

By a 3-to-2 vote Wednesday, the D.C. Council’s Health and Human Services Committee approved a euthanasia bill and sent it to the full 13-member D.C. Council for consideration.

“If a dying person wishes to peacefully end his or her life rather than endure prolonged pain and suffering, we should not stand in their way,” said D.C. Council member Mary Cheh, who represents Ward 3 and sponsored the Death With Dignity Act of 2016.

The bill would allow D.C. patients, at least 18 years old, who are terminally ill and expected to die within six months to obtain a prescription from a physician for a death-inducing drug.

Council member Brianne Nadeau, who represents Ward 1, voted against the bill.

“Those with least access to quality health care are most likely to get a late-stage terminal diagnosis,” she said. “They’re least likely to have coverage for expensive interventions. I believe they’ll also be most likely to consider this option as their best option, even if it’s not.”

Committee Chair Yvette Alexander also voted against the measure, arguing that physician-assisted suicide is a matter best left to the voters in a ballot referendum rather than to the 13 members of the D.C. Council.

Cheh, however, successfully argued that the measure would give dying patients a choice.

“In the face of imminent death, meeting a patient’s individual needs and wishes compassionately should be our top priority,” Cheh said.

The matter is scheduled to go before the full D.C. Council on Oct. 18.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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