The U.S. Congress should not be infringing on the right of Washington, D.C., residents living with terminal illness to decide to die in a humane and peaceful manner. We encourage you to ask Congress to oppose House Joint Resolution 27 to repeal D.C.'s right-to-die law, which allows physicians to prescribe fatal medication for suffering patients with less than six months to live.
On Monday, Feb. 13, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted to overturn the District's assisted suicide law in a 22-14 vote, smiting legislation made by local advocates and elected officials. The committee chair, Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has said that his opposition to the law is rooted in a deep personal, moral conviction. It is worth noting that Chaffetz is a Mormon.
Opposition to the Death with Dignity Act stems primarily from Christian organizations and lawmakers attempting to bend D.C.'s medical policy to fit their theological interpretations of what is moral and ethical. One of the main groups opposed to the legislation has been the D.C. Catholic Conference, which vowed to pressure Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel E. Bowser to veto the act when it was approved in December.
Sadly, there are specific medical circumstances in which a person's death by an illness becomes inevitable and living becomes synonymous with suffering. Overturning D.C.'s right-to-die resolution based on religious views would strip citizens suffering from terminal disease of their right to make a decision based on their own beliefs, values and experiences.
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(Keep reading if you wish to learn more about the bill.)
The D.C. Death with Dignity Act requires that a terminally ill patient making the choice to end his or her life must be a resident of the District who is at least 18 years old, determined mentally capable of making the decision by two physicians and able to articulate an informed decision. To receive the medication, the patient would need to submit one written request, witnessed by at least two other people, and two oral requests. The new measure would then allow a physician to prescribe the medication to a patient under certain conditions. It would also criminalize coercing a terminally ill patient to request the drug.
Tell religious institutions and outside lawmakers who do not represent the District to stay out of D.C's medical legislation. Urge Congress to oppose overturning D.C.'s right-to-die law, which gives terminally ill individuals the right to choose when and how to end their lives.