Statement on amendment seeking repeal of the District’s Death with Dignity Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On July 13th, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment to the fiscal year 2018 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill to repeal the District’s Death with Dignity Act and prohibit the District of Columbia government from spending any funds to implement the bill. The amendment was introduced by Representative Andy Harris (R0MD) and received a vote of 28-24. Councilmember Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), who introduced the Death with Dignity Act in 2015, has released the following statement:

 

“Yet again, Congress has proven that its members are incapable of respecting the principle of autonomy –the autonomy of our locally-elected government and the bodily autonomy of our residents. To meddle with the District’s Death with Dignity Act is to meddle in perhaps what is the most intimate decision of a person’s life: the ability to determine the time and circumstances of their passing when death is imminent. Representative Harris introduced two amendments to interfere in our local affairs, but, unlike his amendment relating to flushable wipes, this repeal would directly result in the prolonged suffering and pain of District residents–many of whom will not be able to relocate to another state where this healthcare option is already available.

 

The Council did not consider this measure lightly and dedicated over two years of careful deliberation to the Death with Dignity Act. To those members who voted to repeal our law, I pose this question: did you ever speak with members of the Council or our constituents? How many hearings were conducted? How many community meetings held? I can only hope that other members of the House and Senate will take a principled stance and reject the call to repeal our local law. In the face of terminal illness and unbearable suffering, the residents of Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California, and Colorado have access to aid in dying, there is no reason why residents of the District of Columbia should be denied that same choice.”

 

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