Will Congress Let D.C. Become the 6th Place in America to Legalize Assisted Suicide?

December 22, 2016

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser on Tuesday signed a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients.

Under the D.C. legislative process the bill now must go before Congress for approval within 30 days. The move was anticipated: though Bowser, a Democrat, hasn't taken a personal stand on the issue, her spokespeople had said she expected the bill to become law.

If the passage is successful, the District of Columbia will become the sixth seventh jurisdiction to approve aid in dying, joining California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington state. While there is no aid-in-dying law on the books in Montana, a 2009 state Supreme Court ruling, Baxter v. Montana, found “no indication in Montana law that physician aid in dying provided to terminally ill, mentally competent adult patients is against public policy” and noted that “the legislature … immunized physicians and medical professionals who act in accordance with the patients’ wishes.”

Colorado approved its law most recently through a ballot measure on Election Night, and 17 other states are considering similar measures, according to Death with Dignity, a group that supports the expansion of aid-in-dying laws.

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