District officials say doctors in the city may now begin the process of prescribing life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients. It sets up a showdown with Republicans in Congress who are trying to void the city’s assisted-suicide law.City officials say the rules and regulations to implement the assisted-suicide law took effect Monday, adding the District to six states that authorize the practice. The assisted-suicide law passed 11 to 2 last year by the D.C. Council after more than a year of debate. It is the latest District measure targeted by federal lawmakers, who have previously moved to block needle exchanges, the legalization of marijuana and abortion subsidies for low-income women.
We execute the laws that the council passes, and at this point, this is the law in the District of Columbia,” said John Falcicchio, chief of staff to Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D). “We don’t stop just because there’s a threat of congressional riders.”
The D.C. Health Department on Monday launched a website where physicians can register to participate in the “Death with Dignity” program. Doctors, pharmacists, and patients can also read up on the law’s requirements and download related forms.In a letter to Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a critic of the assisted-suicide law, Bowser said that no federal funds were used to implement the law and that none will be needed. The “right-to-die” movement has gained momentum in recent years. Similar measures passed in California and in Colorado. There have been dozens of proposals introduced in other state houses, including in Maryland.
Advocates say patients facing impending death should have the right to die on their own terms and avert needless pain.The House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment introduced by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) that would not only withhold funding for the legislation but repeal it altogether.
[caption id="attachment_3010" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Andy Harris (R-Md.) says he wants to use the federal appropriations process to bar the District from implementing its assisted-suicide law.[/caption] Mr. Harris, an anesthesiologist, said authorizing doctors to help terminally ill patients end their lives corrupts medicine and puts vulnerable patients, such as the disabled and elderly, at risk of abuse.“I just don’t think it’s appropriate for the government to give doctors the authority to play God with people’s lives,” Mr. Harris said. “There’s nothing dignified about suicide.” Mr. Harris said the Constitution “clearly gives Congress the authority to oversee the federal enclave of the District of Columbia.” “I can’t do anything about a law passed in Colorado,” the congressman said, “but I am a member of Congress, and Congress has jurisdiction over the District of Columbia.” The House Appropriations Committee approved the amendment by a 28 to 24 vote largely on party lines. The bill still has to be approved by the full House and Senate. President Trump then has to sign the bill for the repeal to take effect.