Today, the D.C. Council Health and Human Services Committee voted to advance B-21-38 (the so-called “Death with Dignity Act”), which would legalize doctor-prescribed suicide in the nation’s capital. A broad coalition of D.C. residents including members of the disability community, medical professionals, faith groups, and the local chapter of National Right to Life, Beltway Right to Life, were involved in lobbying members of the committee in opposing the legislation prior to today’s vote. The bill is scheduled to be considered by the full Council on October 18th.
This bill is dangerous for District residents, for multiple reasons:
1. This bill discriminates against racial and ethnic minorities who lack full access to pain management options, preventative medical care, specialized medical care, or insurance. If assisted suicide is legalized, minorities will be even more victimized.
2. This bill discriminates against the elderly. It creates conditions for elder abuse. Moreover, some doctors have been reported to counsel elderly individuals to consider choosing assisted suicide so as not to burden their families.
3. This bill discriminates against the poor. The Oregon Health Plan has already told several individuals that they would pay for the pills to commit assisted suicide but would not pay for chemotherapy. What will stop other health plans from following suit?
4. This bill discriminates against individuals with disabilities. It implies that a life where a person does not have complete autonomy or complete ability to do everything that a typical person can do is a life that does not have value. This inherently discriminates against individuals with disabilities who overcome challenges daily.
5. This bill does not take into account misdiagnosis whereby a patient may live longer than six months and even in some cases overcome their illness.
6. This bill requires no mental health screening which endangers patients who are suffering with depression.
7. There is no notice to family and friends; no doctors, nurses, or independent witnesses to be present; no tracking of the deadly drugs from the pharmacy; and no recourse for reported abuse.
It is imperative that residents of the District of Columbia contact their council members and urge them to oppose B-21-38. http://nodcsuicide.org/take-action/contact-your-council-member/