D.C. Health was praised today by Compassion & Choices for releasing 2 years of reports showcasing it is making progress in the implementation of the D.C. Death with Dignity Act, in spite of recurring congressional attempts to repeal the law ever since it took effect on 18th Feb 2017.
According to the D.C. Death with Dignity Act, mentally capable, terminally ill adults with 6 or fewer months to live are allowed to have the option for requesting a doctor’s prescription for medication they can choose to take if their end-of-life suffering becomes intolerable, so they can die calmly in their sleep.
At present, 8 states have allowed the medical aid in dying inclusive of Washington, Vermont, New Jersey, Montana, California, Hawai’i, Oregon, and Colorado. In addition to this Maine will be allowing this option beginning 15th of September. Altogether, these 10 jurisdictions represent more than 20 percent of the nation’s population and have over 40 years of experience successfully implementing this medical practice.
Two reports were released by D.C. Health showing no D.C. residents used the law in 2017, however, 4 terminally ill D.C. residents received prescriptions for aid-in-dying medication last year; 2 of these people took the medication to peacefully end their pain from cancer, but 2 others passed away before taking the medication.
The Chief Executive Officer of Compassion & Choices, Kim Callinan stated that Recurring congressional attempts for repealing the law have unfortunately caused confusion about the status of the law, discouraging healthcare providers, doctors, and patients from participating in it. From experience, we know that just having this option gives comfort to terminally ill patients, whether or whether not they use it, because they know they won’t be having to suffer needlessly when they die.