Call For A Consultation (202) 644-8303
Our Blogs

DC Council Passed 'Death with Dignity Bill'

By: Allan M. Siegel

On last Tuesday November 15, 2016, the DC Council passed 11-2 the 'Death with Dignity Bill.' If enacted, the law would enable certain patients with irreversible, terminal illnesses to request and potentially receive covered medications that induce death. It is a complex bill, which attempts to draw a sharp distinction between ‘death with dignity’ and ‘assisted suicide, mercy killing, or homicide.’

In order to be an eligible patient under the Bill, it must be medically confirmed by a licensed physician that an individual will likely die within a 6 month period. To request a covered medication under the Bill, a patient has to make at least 2 oral requests, separated by 15 days. The patient must also submit a request in writing in the presence of 2 qualifying witnesses. At least one of the witnesses must not be a relative, an individual that will inherit any portion of the patient's estate, or a person who works at the healthcare facility where the patient is being cared for.

The Bill has gone to Mayor Bowser for signature. Similar Doctor-assisted death laws currently exist in five states: California, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. are always monitoring such local laws and evaluating how such changes may affect the rights and lives of everyday people.