Human Rights

Washington D.C. Council passes bill to legalize assisted suicide

In October, Live Action News reported that the District of Columbia Council planned a vote on assisted suicide. B21-38, known as the “Death with Dignity” bill was postponed until November 1st, when council members voted to legalize assisted suicide in D.C.

According to, the Council approved the bill on an 11 to 2 vote. Council Members Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1) and Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) cast the dissenting votes.

What is so egregious about the bill is that it is written so that it is the doctor, not the patient, who decides if the patient is eligible for assisted suicide – which contradicts supporters’ claims that the bill is compassionate and about “choice.”

The Washington Post reported that the measure is strongly opposed by African Americans, who make up nearly half of D.C.’s population:

Some African Americans say they are unsettled by the practice because of historical abuse by the medical establishment and concerns that they may be steered to an early death.

Leona Redmond, a Northeast Washington resident who has organized African American seniors against the legislation, said she would take the fight against the bill to Congress, which can strike down local laws.

“We believe in life until natural death and that there is a racist component to it. It’s eugenics being dressed up to look like it’s the best thing since gravy,” Redmond said before joining a prayer circle outside the council chambers. “They have been ‘soft killing’ us for couple of decades now by not providing certain people in the community with what we need to live wholesome lives. They are doing everything to send blacks away.”

The bill requires no mental health screening, which would make it possible for individuals struggling with depression to choose to end their own life through assisted suicide. The bill also does not require that any relatives be notified of the decision, and there is no notice to family or friends. Doctors and medical personnel are not allowed to be present; neither does the bill take into account a possible misdiagnosis. Perhaps most disturbing is that the bill prescribes no course of action to report any abuse of the measure.

Catherine Glenn Foster, former counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom and associate scholar with Charlotte Lozier Institute was present for the D.C. Council’s vote and said today:

Yesterday was a big setback, to be sure, but we are still several steps away from assisted suicide in our nation’s capital. The Council will vote again in a couple of weeks; most seemed firm in their votes, but we will continue to educate and demonstrate that the risks with this bill are just too great. If they affirm yesterday’s vote, then it goes to the Mayor. If she vetoes, it goes back to the Council. If she signs or does nothing, it goes to Congress (and then to the President). So there are [still] a lot of moving parts.

All concerned D.C. residents can help prevent the bill from becoming law by contacting Mayor Muriel Bowser and urging her to veto B21-38 because it is #wrong4DC. She can be called at (202) 727-2643 or emailed at is also encouraging concerned citizens to tweet at @councilofdc using the #wrong4DC hashtag. You can find basic information and talking points for your calls and tweets here.

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