The Washington D.C. city council voted 11-2 in favor of the bill that would permit terminally ill patients to request for a medically-assisted death.
The ‘Death With Dignity Act’ applies to people whom the doctors say have less than six months to live, and are not diagnosed with depression. The patients will have to submit multiple requests for assisted death.
But the bill can be vetoed by Mayor Muriel E Bowser (Dem) who has publicly expressed her position on the issue. If she does not veto the council decision, euthanasia will be legalized in Washington D.C.
Americans are divided on the issue of ‘right to die.’ Many religious groups and organizations say that it might not be conscientious to choose to die as death is solely in the hands of God. Supporters of the bill say that patients should have the right to opt for a peaceful death.
“To deny it [the right to die] to those who competently choose it is simply to prolong the process of death, to prolong suffering, to rob a person of autonomy, and in some cases to simply impose one’s own moral or religious choice on another person,” said Council Member Mary Cheh, the sponsor of the bill.
Opponents also cite other reasons for their apprehension of euthanasia. Many say that expensive insurance companies could disregard options for patients who cannot afford expensive treatments.
“Given the level of dysfunction and injustice that exists currently in our health care system -- with many people without insurance still, with the very underfunded ability of people to have choices for treatment and care -- adding this very potentially dangerous tool to the mix is of great concern to people with disabilities,” Marg Hall of United in Defense of Olmstead was quoted as saying by NPR.
“We believe in life until natural death and that there is a racist component to it. It’s eugenics being dressed up to look like it’s the best thing since gravy,” said Leona Redmond, a resident who leads a group of African Americans opposing the legislation. “They have been ‘soft killing’ us for couple of decades now by not providing certain people in the community with what we need to live wholesome lives. They are doing everything to send blacks away.”
The residents formed a prayer circle outside the council chambers with Washington DC Archdiocese, and Redmond joined them. She has decided to raise her voice in opposition of the bill in Congress to repeal the laws.
Council Member Yvette Alexander, who voted against the legislation, said that such a matter must be decided by residents of the district.
“Given the nature of this bill, being a literal life-or-death issue, I believe this is a matter that is best left to the decision of the residents of the District of Columbia by adding it as a referendum on the ballot,” Alexander was quoted as saying by Religion News Service.
Oregon was the first state in the country to pass such a law in 1997.