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In initial vote, majority of D.C. Council supports assisted suicide bill

The District of Columbia City Council moved one step closer to allowing doctors to prescribe lethal medications to terminally ill patients who want to end their lives on 1st November.

The council voted 11-2 to pass the Death with Dignity Act that would allow a physician to legally prescribe the drugs to patients who have been deemed mentally competent and who have received a terminal diagnosis of six months or less.

Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, chairperson of the Health and Human Service Committee, and Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau offered the only votes opposing the measure.

“The D.C. City Council has taken another step toward passing a fatally flawed bill that would legalise assisted suicide in Washington, D.C.,” said Michael Scott, director of the D.C. Catholic Conference, which represents the public policy interests of the Catholic Church in the district. The conference joined a broad-based coalition of other groups in opposing the measure.

“This bill discriminates against our African-American and Hispanic neighbours, sick seniors, the disabled, the uninsured and all who are vulnerable in our community,” Scott said in a statement after the vote.

“Our coalition will continue to fight this bill, which has few safeguards to protect the vulnerable and does nothing to help the thousands of D.C. residents desperate for access to better health care and improved social services, such as counselling.”

Picture: Protesters outside the Houses of Parliament in London last year as MPs debated and voted on a similar bill. Picture by Jonathan Brady PA Archive/PA Images.