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District of Columbia

Current Status

Washington, D.C. is the sixth jurisdiction in the U.S. to enact an assisted dying statute. The D.C. Death with Dignity Act went into effect on February 18, 2017; implementation started on June 6, 2017.

The 2019 federal budget proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives again (see below) contains a rider repealing the D.C. Death with Dignity Act. The bill passed in the House Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on May 24, 2018.

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

2015

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 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.

2016

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.

2017

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.

The House version of the proposed 2018 federal budget contained a rider repealing the Act. The rider was left out of the Senate companion bill, and the budget passed without the rider.

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