The House Oversight Committee Thursday scheduled time Monday to consider a joint resolution that would overturn D.C.’s doctor-prescribed suicide law.
Known as the “Disapproval of the Death with Dignity Act” (H.J. Res. 27), the resolution would enforce Congress’ authority under the Home Rule Act of 1973 to overturn any District of Columbia Council action by passing a joint resolution of disapproval within a 30-day congressional review period.
The resolution, submitted last month, was proposed by Ohio Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup, Tennessee Republican Rep. Phil Roe, Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Keith Rothfus, and Missouri Republican Rep. Ann Wagner. It is expected to be presented in a House Oversight Committee markup meeting Monday night.
“Whatever its intentions, D.C.’s new law puts patients at risk and could limit their access to high-quality health care. It prioritizes cost over compassion. Since the Constitution charges Congress with legislative jurisdiction over D.C., Congress has a duty to carefully scrutinize this bill, its impact on medical patients, and its effects on our health-care system. We have weighed the legislation and found it wanting. D.C. residents deserve better,” Wenstrup and Roe, both doctors, wrote in a National Review op-ed.
A partner resolution was proposed in the Senate last month as well by Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Lankford, who said of the District’s 2015 law, “America must be a nation that supports and cherishes human life, no matter the age, ethnicity or health of that life.”
Washington D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton told Republican lawmakers to stay out of the local issue last week during a press conference on Capitol Hill.
“After hearing debate, the elected D.C. Council passed the Death with Dignity Act by a vote of 11-2, and the elected D.C. mayor signed it. That should have ended the matter, as it would in any other jurisdiction in the United States,” Holmes Norton said.
The D.C. Council passed the Death with Dignity Act 2 years ago by a vote of 11-2 and it was signed into law by the city’s Democratic mayor Muriel Bowser.
Congress has 30 legislative days to review any legislation after it is passed by the D.C. Council. Resolutions of disapproval are mandated to be passed by both chambers and be signed by the president to overturn a D.C. law.
The D.C. law allowed doctor-assisted suicide under specific conditions. A doctor must conclude that the patient is terminally ill and has no more than six months to live. Additionally, the physician must tell the patient of other alternatives if a request for a lethal prescription is made, The Washington Times reported.
The doctor must then refer the patient to another physician who can independently verify the patient can make the decision on their own and should refer the patient for more counseling if the patient is determined to be psychologically ill. Also, two witnesses are necessary to confirm the patient can make the life-ending decision.
Following two oral requests, the patient must wait 15 days before a written request for a lethal prescription can be made. Two day more days are required thereafter and doctor can prescribe a lethal dose of medication after giving the patient one more chance to halt the process all together and the patient turns it down.