DC Now Letting Patients Choose Physician-Assisted Suicide

Grace Carr | Reporter

The Washington, D.C., mayor’s office announced Monday the implementation of the Death with Dignity Act of 2016, allowing people to legally obtain medicine that will kill them.

The legislation was initially passed by the D.C. Council in November 2016 but did not have legal bearing until Monday.

“The Death with Dignity Act of 2016 establishes a process by which competent, terminally ill residents of Washington, DC can legally obtain a physician’s prescription for medications to end their lives in a humane and peaceful manner,” reads the Bowser administration’s statement.

D.C.’s Department of Health (DOH) said it will regulate the implementation of the new law by providing resources to educate people thinking about ending their lives, as well as ensure that both patients and doctors understand the bill’s requirements. Physicians and pharmacists may choose to prescribe life-ending medication but are under no obligation to do so.

Under the Act, fatal medication can only be requested by a D.C. resident who is terminally ill, older than 18, and is not expected to live more than six months.

“The patient cannot be suffering from impaired judgment as a result of depression or a psychiatric or psychological condition and must be capable of making the decision, expressing an intent to take a medication that will cause death, and must be physically capable of taking the medication,” the Act posits.

The legislation says patients who want to kill themselves via medication have to make an oral request for the drug, a written request, and a second oral request to confirm that they have not changed their mind about the decision to kill themselves. They also must wait at least 15 days after the first oral request to make a second.

The House Appropriations Committee’s spending bill contains a provision blocking funding assisted suicide, thus the new measure may be reversed according to WTOP News.

While the bill was “implemented” Monday according to the DC Mayor’s office, it will not hold weight until both the House and the Senate Budget Office as well as the president approve the bill.

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