Residents urged to write DC Mayor Bowser to veto physician-assisted suicide measure

By Dave Andrusko

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser

As we posted yesterday, it’s an uphill fight in Washington. DC where, in a preliminary vote, the Council voted 11-2 in favor of B21-38 which would legalize physician-assisted suicide in the nation’s capital .

“The council must still hold a final vote on the bill, possibly as early as Nov. 15,” according to the Washington Post.

“It is the first predominantly black community to legalize so-called ‘death with dignity,’ overcoming objections from some African American residents,” Fenit Nirappil reported.

Indeed, this is why Compassion and Choices–the old Hemlock Society–so vigorously lobbied the Council. African-Americans are among the staunchest opponents of assisted suicide.

Take this priceless quote from an earlier Post story:

Across the country, some of the most high-profile representatives of the right-to-die movement have been white, including the terminally ill California woman Brittany Maynard who publicized her decision to end her life on widely viewed YouTube videos and in national media appearances.

Most of the demonstrators at a recent rally outside the D.C. Council building for the “Death with Dignity” legislation were white.

“They are not people who look me,” said Leona Redmond, a 64-year-old longtime District community activist who has been organizing other African American seniors against the legislation.

The Post follow-up story places the vote in the context of the rise to power of affluent whites who are moving the city to the Left. At the center of that is a four-member “progressive” bloc which is only expected to grow with the next election.

Robert McCartney writes

Like the nation’s capital, the D.C. Council is changing. A wave of new lawmakers is replacing an older generation of mostly African American city leaders and reflects a younger, idealistic and more affluent electorate.

And those new council members are shifting the D.C. government to the left.

On Tuesday, the council approved legislation that would allow assisted suicide for terminally ill residents.

The basic idea of McCartney’s story is that newcomers, some of whom thought they were just passing through, are sticking around to the chagrin of older Black people who in the 2014 elections, were less likely than previously to vote.

“People are losing faith in the leadership,” said Gary Butler, a Ward 7 community leader explaining the drop-off in voting. “There’s no one making them want to go to the polls. They’re thinking it’s business as usual.”

Which is why the symbolism of yesterday’s vote is so profound. As we discussed in earlier posts, the older generation of African Americans is very, very wary of white “do-gooders” in general, the medical establishment in particular. The Post’s Fenit Nirappil reported

Many in the black community distrust the health-care system and fear that racism in life will translate into discrimination in death, said Patricia King, a Georgetown Law School professor who has written about the racial dynamics of assisted death.

“Historically, African Americans have not had a lot of control over their bodies, and I don’t think offering them assisted suicide is going to make them feel more autonomous,” King said.

Whether or not the Council could override a veto, residents should contact Mayor Browser and urge her to veto “The D.C. Death With Dignity Act,” B21-38.