DC lawmakers fight for Death with Dignity bill in Congress

WASHINGTON — Controversial legislation allowing terminally ill D.C. residents to end their lives is headed for a markup in Congress, leaving local lawmakers fighting for its future.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and D.C. congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton are rallying for support of the so-called Death with Dignity bill, which passed the council in mid-November.

All D.C. bills must undergo congressional approval, under the Home Rule Act of 1973. Holmes Norton said she has expected a fight on the legislation from the get-go.

“Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are charging full steam ahead with their undemocratic attempt to overturn an entirely local law,” she said in a Jan. 30 statement..

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told reporters in January that he fundamentally disagreed with the bill, which Mayor Muriel Bowser signed in December.

“Congress shouldn’t interfere with our local choices,” said the bill’s author, D.C. Council member Mary Cheh, in response to Chaffetz.

 “We are able to govern ourselves and should be able to govern ourselves and so they should stay out of it,” she said.

The legislation allows terminally ill patients given less than six months to live to be prescribed life-ending medications.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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