Congress Can Stop D.C. Physician Assisted Suicide Law

By Gloria Taylor

Last fall, the D.C. City Council approved the Death With Dignity Act. This bill allows doctors to prescribe lethal medication to patients deemed terminally ill. But by legalizing physician assisted suicide, the D.C. council sends a message all but dignifying the notion that sanctify of life does not matter. This misguided law changes the nature of medicine and leaves the country’s most vulnerable out to dry.

The law’s name attempts to paint assisted suicide as compassionate, masquerading the truly horrifying ramifications of policy that promotes death over life. Doctors have pledged to heal, not act as agents of death. When depression and hopelessness drive the terminally individual to end their life more often, mental illness treatments and suicide prevention ought to be the prescription–not lethal drugs.

Heritage senior research fellow in public policy, Ryan Anderson explains the logic at the heart of the debate:  “[Assisted suicide] says that some lives are unworthy of legal protection. That if you’re sick enough or disabled enough, you’re better off dead—and that doctors can give deadly drugs to you, but not to people with allegedly greater social value.”

Aside from redefining society’s view on life, the potential for abuse raises many red flags. Who holds doctors accountable in this process? What laws protect those who are terminally ill from coercion to end their life? What happens when it is cheaper to die then to undergo experimental treatments? Every incentive will be to kill off people that are too sick and too expensive.

Fortunately, Congress possesses the authority to review the council’s legislation and ultimately nullify it with the stroke of the President’s pen. And this is exactly what they should do. The first duty of government is always to protect the life of its citizens.

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