Earlier today, the Committee on Health and Human Services of the Council of the District of Columbia approved an important assisted dying bill. With their 3-2 markup vote, Councilmembers took a crucial step to providing District residents with more autonomy in their final days. The bill now moves to the full Council for a vote on October 18.
The bill markup comes on the heels of Washington Post‘s repeated endorsement of the legislation. Last year, I accompanied the bill sponsor, Councilmember Mary Cheh, in a visit with the Washington Post Editorial Board, resulting in a crucial endorsement for Death with Dignity from the paper. As the Council Committee prepared to vote on the bill this year, the Post interviewed us again and, last Saturday, endorsed the bill once more.
The Post‘s editors write in their measured, reasoned opinion:
Hopefully council members will be guided by the experience of states that have been pioneers in the death-with-dignity movement. They have carefully crafted laws giving the terminally ill control over the timing and manner of their death while putting in place safeguards to prevent abuse and medical mistakes. The District should add its name to the list of places that offer their citizens compassion and control at life’s end.
We wholeheartedly agree.
In our style of legislative advocacy, we work directly with legislators and policy makers like Councilmember Cheh to craft the best bills possible and shepherd them through the political process. This is the kind of work that seeks, not to draw attention to our organization, but rather to advance our movement and conduct behind-the-scenes political work needed to accomplish what took place today.
Today’s vote in the Council Committee brings us so very close to our work bearing fruit.