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D.C. Congresswoman Vows to Defend Death with Dignity Act from Congressional Interference

The following media advisory was released by D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton’s office on November 16. 

Norton to Defend D.C.’s ‘Death with Dignity Act’ from Congressional Interference

Calls on Congress to Respect D.C. Autonomy

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced today that she will vigorously defend the District of Columbia’s medical aid-in-dying bill, the Death with Dignity Act, from congressional interference.  Organizations for and against the bill have announced their intention to lobby Congress on it.

“I have always defended, and am obligated to defend, every duly enacted bill of the District of Columbia from congressional interference,” Norton said.  “The same should hold in Congress, regardless of Members’ personal or political views on non-federal matters decided by local jurisdictions.  D.C. residents have spoken through their elected local representatives on this issue, and, in a democracy, unaccountable members of Congress must not impose their views on a local jurisdiction.  I understand the deep passions this issue raises, as we saw during the deliberations of this bill in the D.C. Council.”

Medical aid in dying is already legal in six states.  According to the Gallup, a majority of Americans (69% in 2016) have supported medical aid in dying since 1973.

The D.C. bill, which is modeled on the laws in states that have legalized medical aid in dying, allows a doctor to write a prescription for a lethal dose of medication to a D.C. resident who is competent, over the age of 18 and has a terminal illness and six months or less to live.  The bill includes numerous safeguards, including requiring two physicians to confirm the diagnosis, the patient to make two oral requests for the medication, separated by at least 15 days, and a written request 48 hours before the medication can be prescribed, and the patient to self-administer the medication.