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District of Columbia Becomes 7th Jurisdiction to Authorize Medical Aid in Dying

Death with Dignity Act to Take Effect Tomorrow, Sat., Feb. 18

The District of Columbia’s medical aid-in-dying bill, the D.C. Death with Dignity Act, will take effect tomorrow, Sat., Feb. 18, because opponents failed to get the support necessary in Congress to stop the bill from becoming law.

The Death with Dignity Act was transmitted by the D.C. Council to the House and Senate on Jan. 6 for a 30-legislative-day review period under the Home Rule Act. H.J. Res 27, which would have overturned the D.C. Death with Dignity Act, stalled without a floor vote today in either house.

Though Congress could still vote to overturn the law or try to defund it, overriding D.C.’s laws becomes more difficult after they go into effect. Following is a statement from Jessica Grennan, national director of political affairs and advocacy for Compassion & Choices, the end-of-life choice advocacy organization that helped pass the law:

“Today we are celebrating that the District of Columbia has become the 7th jurisdiction to authorize medical aid in dying for terminally ill people. The advocacy of D.C. residents and local officials is what won this victory. Democracy conquered the personal mindsets of paternalistic politicians whose opinions should not get in the way of people getting the medical relief they want and need.

“We will continue to monitor Congress for attacks on D.C. or any of the six other states where medical aid-in-dying is authorized: California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont. And while it is true that opponents want to defund and overturn the law, no funding is required for the law to go into effect. Terminally ill patients can now legally get medical aid in dying in the District of Columbia. Doctors may now prescribe appropriate medications under the law without fear of prosecution. We urge anyone who is eligible and considering this option to make the request of their doctor right away, since we cannot predict whether or when this right may be stripped away by Congress.”