by Ethan A. Huff, Natural News:
A bill that would allow doctors in the District of Columbia to kill their patients “compassionately” – a medical “procedure” known as physician-assisted suicide – has been given the green light by D.C.’s City Council. Reports indicate that, pending a signature by Mayor Muriel Bowser, the bill will soon become law, making D.C. the sixth jurisdiction in the nation to legally sanction euthanasia for patients who opt for it with the blessing of their physicians.
In an overwhelming vote of 11–2, the D.C. Council, led by councilwoman Mary Cheh, voted to pass the “Death With Dignity Act,” which advocates say is desperately needed to help those with debilitating illnesses pass in peace. Cheh is quoted as saying that there is an “urgent need” to allow patients to commit suicide with the help of their doctors, and that this “end-of-life care option” is a matter of personal freedom.
“This law is designed to keep the government from taking away people’s freedom and liberty to make these fundamentally personal decisions in consultation with their family, physician and spiritual advisors,” Cheh said in a statement.
The 11–2 vote is so overwhelming that not even Mayor Bowser has the option to veto it, and reports indicate that once passed it will go to Congress for review. Mayor Bowser never really stated whether or not she planned to veto the bill, but she did indicate that she expected it to eventually become law, according to The Washington Post.
Is it ever morally right to take someone else’s life, even with consent?
Councilman Kenyan R. McDuffie, one of the Death With Dignity Act’s supporters, had an emotional outburst during a recent hearing on the bill. Having lost his own father to what he says was an excruciating downward health spiral that resulted in his horrible death, McDuffie told an audience of both supporters and opponents of the bill that he “wouldn’t wish that on anyone else.”
Other council members told of how they experienced considerable turmoil, both morally and as a matter of their respective religious beliefs, when trying to decide how to vote on the bill. On the one hand, it would seem cruel to allow someone in terrible pain and misery to keep on suffering against his or her will. But on the other, who are we to decide whether or not it’s the right time for a person to die?
Councilwoman Anita Bonds stated that, despite her strong feelings in opposition to physician-assisted suicide, she ultimately decided to support the bill because, in her own words, “I do not have the authority to impose my views on others.” Others in the council shared varying degrees of this same sentiment.
Opponents of the bill share the same conviction, but from a different perspective – they feel as though they don’t have the authority to decide to take someone else’s life, even if that person says he or she no longer wants to live. There are also concerns that the provisions of the new law would make it easier for critically ill or disabled patients to be steered towards premature death, advancing an agenda of sinister eugenics rather than “compassionate” euthanasia.
“Much as the proponents protest over and over again that there are adequate safeguards, they are in no way adequate,” says Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst at the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, about the tenets of the bill. “We really want to share with Congress why this bill is so dangerous, that if they want to look at overturning it, they really need to understand what the problems are.”
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