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Death with Dignity Act in Washington D.C.

The review period for Congress to disapprove of the Washington, D.C. Death with Dignity Act has expired. The D.C. assisted suicide law has come into effect on the 18th of February.

 Terminally ill Washington D.C. residents will now have Death with Dignity among their end-of-life options. In December, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Death with Dignity Act, which legalized assisted suicide in the district and gave doctors the ability to offer lethal medication to individuals who are terminally ill and will die within six months.


Still, it will take a while before it can be implemented. District agencies will need several months to set up the required process before terminally ill residents can try to obtain life-ending drugs. The city also has to identify funds for the project.  This time consuming process gives opponents opportunities to block the law. Federal law makers are looking into the option of the appropriations process to neutralize it and gut the funding for the Death with Dignity Act.


Also, the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, chaired by Jason Chaffetz (Utah), voted 22-14 against the law, in an attempt to overturn the legislation. The US Consititution gives Congress the power to overturn laws in the District.  “I urge Chairman Chaffetz to allow DC officials to govern DC (…). I’d expect the chairman to let us be governed according to our DC values.” Mayor Bowser said in a statement.


Death with Dignity National Center’s Peg Sandeen states they’re celebrating this victory, but continue to defend and protect D.C.’s local law. The District of Columbia is the 6th jurisdiction in the United States of America to enact an Oregon-style assisted dying statute.