D.C. Council to Consider 'Death with Dignity' Bill | NBC4 Washington
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D.C. Council to Consider 'Death with Dignity' Bill

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    News4's Tom Sherwood spoke to Council Member Mary Cheh who introduced the bill. (Published Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015)

    A D.C. Council member wants the nation's capital to join the three states that allow terminally ill people to end their lives with the help of a physician.

    Democratic Council Member Mary Cheh introduced the "Death with Dignity Act'' on Wednesday. The bill would establish a process for a terminally ill patient to use medication to end his or her life.

    "It's the choice that we ought to make available to people," Cheh said.

    The bill would allow patients with six or fewer months left to live to take their own lives.

    "They say they wanted to choice. They wanted to say what the circumstances, the time and the place of their deaths should be," Cheh said. "People who have philosophical or religious objections, no one's being forced to do anything. It's a choice."

    Oregon, Vermont and Washington state have similar laws. The issue received national attention last year when Brittany Maynard, a woman with terminal brain cancer, moved from California to Oregon to end her life. Before she died in November at age 29, Maynard urged states to pass death-with-dignity laws. Numerous states are considering such bills.

    Under Cheh's bill, patients who are likely to die within 6 months could request lethal medication.

    More than 750 people have chosen physician-assisted suicide in Oregon since it was legalized in 1997.