Washington, D.C., City Council threatens the most vulnerable with assisted suicide legislation

On November 1, the city council of our nation’s capital passed a bill that would legalize assisted suicide.  B21-38 was modeled after Oregon’s assisted suicide law, which allowed Brittany Maynard to take her life in 2014.  Opponents of the law point to the discrimination and troubling message of such anti-Life measures.  While healthy people have access to suicide prevention, those who have a terminal diagnosis or are too ill to care for themselves are told they are free to take their own lives.

Many in D.C. are particularly concerned about the effect the law will have on minority communities.  Assisted suicide laws have passed in states like Oregon which has a predominantly white population.  Washington, D.C., has a large African American community.  The Washington Post summarized the concerns of minority leaders: “Some worry that blacks, who tend to have less access to treatment and preventive care, may think that ending their lives early is their best option when given a terminal diagnosis.”  Some have criticized the law as an attempt to avoid paying for medical care for poor citizens of D.C.

These concerns are not unfounded.  We’ve already seen that in response to a new California law, an insurance company refused to pay for chemotherapy but offered to pay for a cancer patient’s suicide.  Such troubling stories should raise questions about how vulnerable patients will be treated under such laws.  Who else is at risk when the least expensive “treatment” option is death?  People with chronic illnesses, the poor, and those whose “quality of life” is judged to be inferior are all at risk for medical discrimination and social pressure.

Although Texas is a strongly Pro-Life state, we are not immune to the dangers of imposed death.  Under the Texas Advance Directives Act, vulnerable hospital patients can be removed from life-sustaining care after the judgement of a nameless, faceless hospital committee.  Texas Right to Life has worked with hundreds of patients and their families as they race against the clock as they fight for their Right to Life and medical care.  Like the draconian provisions of TADA, assisted suicide laws put the most vulnerable at greater risk.

Although B21-38 was passed by the city council, Mayor Muriel Bowser has yet to sign the bill into law.  We hope that the citizens of D.C. urge their Mayor to support the sanctity of all human Life and veto the bill.