Last Thursday, D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton hosted an event at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 47th annual legislative conference to detail how Congress is usurping the District of Columbia’s autonomy to make its own laws. She introduced Compassion & Choices National Constituency Director Brandi Alexander to speak about the U.S. House of Representatives’ recent passage of a must-pass appropriations bill to fund the government with an amendment to repeal the D.C. Death with Dignity Act.
Brandi provided national and state polling data showing that medical aid in dying is supported by Americans across the ethnic, political, regional, religious and racial spectrum, including African-Americans. She also explained that medical aid-in-dying laws help many terminally ill adults in communities of all colors, not just the small number of people who decide to utilize it as an end-of-life care option.
“We don’t like to talk about dying or end of life, even when we are facing a terminal illness, particularly in the African-American community. So these laws help foster that relationship with the medical community so that we can start dying in better situations.” Brandi said. “ Even if this option doesn’t fit your value system … just having the conversation about all end-of-life care options alone has impacted the medical community and how people are dying in states where medical aid in dying is authorized.”
Brandi’s words underscored the fact that the majority of D.C. residents (67%) support medical aid in dying, including five of the six African-American councilmembers who approved the law in a 11-2 vote by the full D.C. Council.
She also noted that C&C is aiding efforts by D.C. officials to ensure all terminally ill residents have access to this peaceful option — even as Congress pursues its gross overreach to void the law, although it has taken effect. The Senate still needs to approve the appropriations bill, so we are working around the clock to ensure that the amendment to repeal the D.C. Death with Dignity Act isn’t included in the final version.
D.C. lawmakers and residents want this option for their city, and the federal government has no place interfering with their local laws.