About the Washington, D.C., Death with Dignity Act

The D.C. Death with Dignity Act authorizes medical aid in dying. Medical aid in dying is a safe and trusted medical practice in which a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with a prognosis of six months or less to live may request from his or her doctor a prescription for medication which they can choose to self-ingest to bring about a peaceful death. The law went into effect in February 2017.

How Do I Access a Prescription?

Eligibility requirements

To be eligible for medical aid in dying under Washington, D.C.’s law, a person must be:

  • An adult
  • Terminally ill
  • Given a prognosis of six months or less to live
  • Mentally capable of making their own healthcare decisions

A person must also be:

  • A resident of Washington, D.C.
  • Acting voluntarily
  • Making an informed decision that includes being given information about all other end-of-life options
  • Informed that they may choose to obtain the aid-in-dying prescription but not take it
  • Capable of self-administering and ingesting the aid-in-dying drug

In addition to the requirements listed above, certain steps must be followed in order for a person to qualify for aid-in-dying medication. The average length of time between requesting and receiving a prescription is between 15 days to three months and requires at least two doctor visits. Therefore, it is important for individuals to talk to their doctors early to see whether the doctor is willing to write a prescription. We encourage everyone to begin this conversation now.

Where Can I Learn More?

For D.C. residents:

D.C. Introduction to Medical Aid in Dying

D.C. Death with Dignity Act Information for Residents

D.C. Death with Dignity Act Frequently Asked Questions

How to Talk to Your Doctor About Medical Aid in Dying

Request For Medication Form

A Patient’s Guide to Personal Advocacy

Government sponsored website that shows and compares the ratings of hospice agencies – giving you a snapshot of the quality of care of each hospice

For more information on the full range of end-of-life options visit the Compassion & Choices End of-Life-Information Center.

About Compassion & Choices

Compassion & Choices is the nation’s oldest, largest and most active nonprofit organization committed to improving care and expanding choice for the end of life.

For more information on the full range of end-of-life options visit the Compassion & Choices end-of-life planning page.

Compassion & Choices
8156 S Wadsworth Blvd #E-162
Littleton, CO 80128

Mail contributions directly to:
Compassion & Choices Gift Processing Center
PO Box 485
Etna, NH 03750

VICTORY: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed the improved End-of-Life Options Act.