UPDATE: The D.C. Council voted to postpone the assisted suicide vote until November 1, and the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition urges people to continue contacting the Council Members. (Contact information available at the bottom of this article.)
The District of Columbia Council will vote tomorrow on assisted suicide, and the decision could have international implications. The vote will be on B21-38, or the so-called “Death with Dignity 2015” bill, and the assisted suicide lobby is pushing hard for the bill to be voted into law, legalizing assisted suicide in the District of Columbia.
Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu wrote an op-ed in favor of the bill. The Death with Dignity National Center has also been closely following the progress of the bill. Compassion & Choices even launched a video ad campaign with the specific goal of rebutting pro-life objections, which are significant.
“This bill not only discriminates against the sick, the elderly and individuals with disabilities but also completely limits both choice and autonomy,” the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition USA wrote in a statement. They pointed out that, with this bill, the doctor chooses if the patient is eligible for assisted suicide… and not the patient themselves. So the idea that assisted suicide will give District of Columbia residents more autonomy is questionable. A psychological exam is not mandatory, meaning that if a patient is depressed or suffering from a mental illness, they still can receive approval for an assisted suicide. “A patient may not have the capacity to make a real choice if they are depressed and untreated, or feel unwanted,” the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition pointed out.
In addition to these issues, the bill encourages coercion: the heir to the patient’s estate can not only be there to witness the request for assisted suicide, they can also go pick up the drugs for the patient. So if an elderly person is being pressured into assisted suicide, imagine how much more pressure they would feel if the person who is going to benefit from their death is staring over their shoulder the entire time to make sure that they go through with it. This means that a family member could easily get the drugs and administer it to an elderly family member without their knowledge or consent. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition rightly said in their statement: “Elder abuse is rampant in our society.”
Worryingly, the District of Columbia bill mirrors what we have already seen happen in Oregon: an insurance company or government entity decides whether the treatment for a disease is covered, or if the less-expensive assisted suicide drugs are covered. All too often in Oregon, patients will be told that getting treatment for their disease is not covered, while their assisted suicide is covered.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition USA is urging citizens to contact District of Columbia officials to express their opposition to this bill, and considering how invested the assisted suicide lobby is in seeing this bill passed, that will mean pro-lifers will need to be very vocal in response.
- Office of the Mayor, Press Secretary LaToya Foster: (202) 727-5011, email@example.com
- DC City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson: (202) 724-8032, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Monique Wynn, Deputy Chief for the Chairman: (202) 724-8792, email@example.com
- Lindsey Walton, Director of Communications: (202) 724-8140, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Michele Blackwell, Chief of Staff for Council Member Elissa Silverman: (202) 724-7772, email@example.com
- Ari Weisbard, Legislative Director for Council Member Elissa Silverman: (202) 724-7772, firstname.lastname@example.org