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House Committee Vote to Overturn Death with Dignity Act is Affront to Will of D.C. Residents

Compassion & Choices, Bill Advocates Vow to Fight to Keep D.C. Law

Compassion & Choices blasted the House Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) Committee tonight for voting 22-14 to advance a disapproval resolution, H.J. Res. 27, to overturn the D.C. Death with Dignity Act. The resolution will face a vote by the full House of Representatives this week.

“We will work with our partners, advocates and D.C. residents living with advanced illness to do everything in our power to protect the D.C. Death with Dignity Act,” said Jessica Grennan, National Director of Political Affairs and Advocacy for Compassion & Choices. “It is a dangerous path for Congress to interfere with the democratic process in setting local policy in the District of Columbia and it clearly contradicts the D.C. Home Rule Act’s Statement of Purposes.”

The law would give mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or fewer to live the option to request from their physicians, a prescription medication which they may  decide to self-administer to bring about a peaceful death.  D.C. residents support medical aid in dying by a 2-1 margin, according to a July 2015 Lake Research poll. D.C. residents’ elected officials, the D.C. Council, overwhelmingly voted to pass the legislation by an 11-2 margin, and yet the OGR Committee proceeded to pass the resolution after refusing to hold a single hearing to listen to their perspectives.

“Lawmakers who do not represent D.C. residents should not take away the peace of mind that this option brings to terminally ill adults knowing they can end their suffering if it becomes intolerable,” said D.C. resident Mary Klein, who has incurable ovarian cancer and is featured in a YouTube video about why she supports medical aid in dying (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZziF0U79jkA&feature=youtu.be). The personal opinions of House Oversight Committee Chairman Chaffetz and other committee members who oppose medical aid in dying should not interfere with the will of the D.C. residents like me, who overwhelmingly support this legislation.”

The D.C. Death with Dignity Act was transmitted to Congress for a 30 legislative day review period on Jan. 6, 2017. The bill will take effect at the expiration of the review period, unless Congress passes a joint disapproval resolution and the president signs it during that period.