Bioethics News

House committee votes against DC assisted suicide law

Washington DC’s assisted suicide law hit a major roadblock this week, with a House of Representatives Oversight Committee voting to overturn the legislation.

The committee voted 22-14 against the law after hearing arguments from over a dozen lawmakers.

“I worry that assisted suicide will create a marketplace for death,” said Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who heads the Oversight Committee. “I think it’s fundamentally wrong.”

The US Constitution gives Congress the power to overturn laws in the 68-square-mile (177-square-km) district. The committee decision, however, requires passage by both the House and Senate and signature by the president.

Washington DC council members were indignant at the decision, which they see as an unacceptable trespass of Congress into local governance: “I urge Chairman Chaffetz to allow DC officials to govern DC — and focus on the more pressing issues facing our country”, Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement Monday.

The DC assisted suicide law comes into effect today, but it will take District agencies several months to set up the required process before terminally ill residents can try to obtain life-ending drugs, and the city has to identify funds for that project.

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