Serving Maryland and Washington D.C. 301.870.1200

Assisted Suicide Law in Washington DC Effective as of July 2017

sad girlEffective 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.

Eligible Patients

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.”

The 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, especially since 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
Categories: