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Group Warns D.C. Death with Dignity Act Opponents Not to Try to Repeal Law Again

Praises Congresswoman Norton for Her Vow to Keep Defeating Repeal Efforts

Compassion & Choices CEO Kim Callinan

Compassion & Choices praised Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton for her vow today to prevent congressional opponents of D.C.’s Death with Dignity Act from repealing the law this year, as she did last year. The law gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live the option to get a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes unbearable.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup (Ohio), who authored a House concurrent resolution condemning medical aid in dying in 2017, said two weeks ago: “we were unable to put language repealing the D.C…law in to recent spending legislation, but I am hopeful that we will be able to do so in next year’s legislation [for fiscal year 2019 that starts Oct. 1, 2018].”

Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill, H.R. 3354, with an amendment by U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (Md.) to repeal D.C.’s Death with Dignity Act. Rep. Norton led the fight to keep the amendment out of the final spending bill Congress passed and President Trump signed in March to fund the government through the close of fiscal year 2018 that ends September 30.

“Members of Congress who oppose medical aid in dying like Reps. Wenstrup and Harris should stop treating the District of Columbia as their personal petri dish and respect the autonomy of D.C. residents and their elected officials,” said Compassion & Choices CEO Kim Callinan. “We will continue working with Rep. Norton to defeat these cruel, relentless attacks on D.C.’s medical aid-in-dying law that cause terminally ill D.C. residents to worry they will lose this option to peacefully end their suffering.”

“Reps. Wenstrup and Harris are doctors, so they should know better than to intervene between other physicians and their patients who recognize medical aid in dying as a legitimate palliative care option to relief intolerable suffering,” said Dr. Omega Silva, an 81-year-old retired physician living in Washington, D.C. with three cancer diagnoses. “They are wrong ethically to impose their personal values on other doctors and patients and to impede terminally ill D.C. residents from even considering this option.”

A fall 2016 Medscape online survey of 7,500 doctors nationwide representing 25 medical specialties showed they supported medical aid in dying by a 2-1 margin (57% to 29%).


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