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District of Columbia

Current Status

The D.C. Death with Dignity Act went into effect on February 20, 2017; Washington, D.C. is the sixth jurisdiction in the U.S. to enact an assisted dying statute. The city’s Department of Health anticipates having the reporting system in place by September 30, 2017, with the view of the law going into full effect on October 1.

The proposed 2018 federal budget blocks funding for the Act’s reporting requirements. If passed, the budget would effectively nullify the D.C. law.

We have worked in the District from Day 1 and will continue to defend the law in collaboration with our friends and allies in the D.C. Council and Congress. Read more →

History

Ward 3 Council of the District of Columbia representative, Councilmember, Mary Cheh introduced B21-0038, the Death with Dignity Act of 2015, in January 2015. A hearing in the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee took place on July 10; the same day our new poll, conducted by Lake Research, showed that 67 percent of Washingtonians favor Death with Dignity.

The 2015 Council session was the first time a Death with Dignity bill was considered in the nation’s capital.

The bill was marked up (passed) in the Committee on Health and Human Services on October 5, 2016, on a vote of 3 to 2. The full Council considered the fiscal impact of the bill on October 18, and approved it 11 to 2 on November 1 and again, by the same vote, on November 15, 2016. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Act on December 19, 2016.

The bill passed on final reading November 15, 2016, by 11 to 2 and was signed by the Mayor on December 19, 2016. The bill was then transferred to the United States Congress for review (the deadline to pass a resolution of disapproval is February 28, 2017). After the Death with Dignity Act of 2015 passed in the Council of the District of Columbia and Mayor Bowser signed it in 2016, on January 6, 2017, the bill was transferred to Congress for a required 30-day review.

On January 12, 2017, Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) and Representative Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) introduced companion resolutions, HJ Res. 27 / SJ Res. 4, disapproving of D.C.’s law (the three original co-sponsors of the House Resolution were, by 2/7/2017, joined by 55 Representatives; the Senate version was sponsored by three Senators). The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform passed HJ Res 27 at a markup hearing on February 13. However, the resolution did not reach the House floor or the Senate by the February 17 deadline.

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