DC Lawmakers Push ‘Right to Die’ Bill in City Council

By Published on October 6, 2016

A bill legalizing the “right to die” for terminally ill patients moved forward in the D.C. Council Wednesday despite concerns over the impact on low income individuals.

The D.C. Council’s Health and Human Services Committee voted to approve the measure in a slim 3-2 vote, sending it to the full 13 member Council for a final review. The bill allows terminally ill patients with less than six months to live to request a lethal injection of medication. The Death With Dignity Act of 2016, sponsored by Ward 3 council member Mary Cheh, bars anyone younger than 18 from requesting the injection, reports WTOP.

“If a dying person wishes to peacefully end his or her life rather than endure prolonged pain and suffering, we should not stand in their way,” Cheh argued at Wednesday’s hearing. “In the face of imminent death, meeting a patient’s individual needs and wishes compassionately should be our top priority.”

Critics of the bill fear the disproportionate effect the “right to die” option could have on low income patients. Council member David Grosso, while voting in favor of advancing the bill, expressed concern it may force individuals with fewer healthcare options into choosing death, reports WJLA.

Council members Brianne Nadeau and Yvette Alexander stood in opposition to the Death With Dignity Act over similar fears.

“Those with least access to quality health care are most likely to get a late-stage terminal diagnosis,” Nadeau said at the hearing. “They’re least likely to have coverage for expensive interventions. I believe they’ll also be most likely to consider this option as their best option, even if it’s not.”

The 13 member council will vote on final approval on Oct. 18.


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