GOP Attempts to Repeal Physician-Assisted Suicide Law in Washington D.C.

Republicans in congress voted 28-24 to repeal the Death With Dignity Act that was passed in D.C. last year allowing physician-assisted suicides. The law modeled an Oregon law, which stated that individuals seeking physician-assisted suicides had to be terminally ill, competent, and have less than six months to live. The physician would then provide medication after the patient requests it “twice in the company of two witnesses over 15 days.” After being given the medication, patients had to take the pills themselves.

When D.C. passed the bill, they joined California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and Washington in legalizing physician-assisted suicides. Maryland’s only Republican congressman, Andy Harris, introduced the repealing of the D.C. law. D.C. residents, including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, are upset that individuals like Congressman Harris, who represent different states, are now trying to change D.C. laws.

As stated by Mayor Muriel Bowser in her opposition of the repeal, “none of the members opposing our law were elected to represent our residents. This is not a federal issue. This is a local issue. Members of Congress who are interfering with our laws must begin to realize what they are really doing: attempting to sidestep the democratic process in order to impose their personal beliefs on 681,000 Washingtonians.”

There are two main perspectives on physician-assisted suicides. With minor differences, the battle of physician-assisted suicide resembles the battle of abortion, in that other people’s perception of life intervenes with another’s choice about themselves. One side suggests, as stated by Republican Jason Chaffetz, “it runs counter to ethical prohibitions against suicide,” it follows the conservative “pro-life” stance to not allow physician-assisted suicides, and it can be a way for insurance companies to refuse to pay your bills by offering the cheaper route of death instead of treatment.

The other side suggests that physician-assisted suicide is a way of dying with dignity, suggesting that living the end of life without one’s physical and mental faculties is worse than death to some. Those for physician-assisted suicide argue that people should seek treatment for their illness but that they should also have the choice to die with dignity if their treatment path is unsuccessful. Here are two quick videos depicting the perspectives.

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