A US vote could repeal assisted suicide law in Washington DC

A US vote could repeal assisted suicide law in Washington DC Cardinal Timothy Dolan

New steps have been taken to repeal Washington DC’s assisted suicide law, as the House of Appropriations Committee voted to repeal the legislation last week.

The day before the vote, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan sent a letter to members of the committee urging them to “nullify the DC City Council’s deceptively named ‘Death with Dignity Act’ that legalises the dangerous and unethical practice of doctor-assisted suicide”.

The measure still has to be approved by the full House and Senate, and US President Donald Trump, before it can be enforced.

It was introduced by Andy Harris who told the committee there is “nothing dignified about suicide”.

Harris also called the act “bad policy” and said that “physicians were playing God”.

Under the current legislation physicians can legally prescribe lethal drugs to patients who have been deemed mentally competent, and who have received a terminal diagnosis of six months or less.

In a letter to House Appropriations Committee members, Cardinal Dolan said the law was “seriously flawed” and said it “poses the greatest risks of abuse and coercion to those who are poor, elderly, disabled, members of a minority group, or without access to good medical care”.

The cardinal, who is chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, also told committee members that the law could cause the deaths of many people who are not terminally ill and it also “reflects a bias against persons with disabilities and serious illness”.