Effective July of 2017, doctors in Washington DC can now legally prescribe
life-ending drugs to certain terminally ill patients.
DC now joins states like California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington that
allow some form of legally-assisted suicide.
Only patients who are 18 and over, mentally competent, and with verification
of less than six months to live are eligible to take advantage of the
assisted suicide law. In addition, two witnesses must attest that the
patient is making this decision voluntarily rather than under duress.
Tourists to DC hoping to take advantage of the law are ineligible. It
is limited to residents only.
How the Assisted Suicide Law Works
The law is very clear that the power to end one’s life is in the
hands of the patient, not the doctor. All the doctor can do is legally
prescribe the medication, he or she cannot “play God.”
law clearly states that "Nothing in this act may be construed to authorize a physician
or any other person to end a patient's life by lethal injection."
The assisted suicide law allows for a prescription that allows the patient
to die peacefully in his or her sleep.
Patients must make
two requests to a doctor stating that they want to end their life. These requests must be made
15 days apart. If granted, the patient must obtain the drugs and take
their own life in a private place.
Obtaining the meds will take about three weeks after starting the initial
process. Not surprisingly, the opposition to this law has been strong
and fierce. Congress wants to repeal the law, pointing out that the federal
government technically has jurisdiction here.
It is important to note that although it is now legal, participation from
doctors and/or pharmacies is completely voluntary. If a doctor does not
believe in the practice, he or she does not have to write the prescription.
History of the “Death with Dignity” Law
The assisted suicide law passed 11 to 2 by the DC Council in 2016 after
more than a year of debate. The city government is required to monitor
and track any requests. Republicans are vehemently opposed to the bill,
President Trump’s budget proposal prohibits any funding for this law, which was originally scheduled to
become active last September.
DC’s Death with Dignity law is closely patterned after that of Oregon,
which has at least a dozen safeguards in place designed to keep depressed
people from getting the prescription.
Contact a Licensed Washington DC Personal Injury Attorney
The topic of right-to-die laws is an emotionally charged and medically
controversial one. In some cases, patients want to opt for this method
due to the negligence or malpractice of their trusted medical provider.
If you or someone you love was the victim of medical malpractice, it is
important to talk to an experienced
personal injury attorney. Contact the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 705-5253 to schedule
a free consultation today