D.C. is poised to become the sixth jurisdiction in the country to legalize assisted suicide.
Tuesday, not a single councilmember objected as the bill came up to allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients. However, there are plenty of people with strong feelings on both sides.
“I'm very much in favor of it,” said 74-year-old Nancy Nelson, who was diagnosed with Parkinson ’s disease nine years ago. “You gradually lose control over a lot of your muscles, then you can't walk, are bedridden.”
Nelson said if she could legally get a dose of deadly drugs, it would be a relief, not a reason to be afraid.
LaVergne Marshall, 92, feels very differently. She’s a mother of four, a grandmother of two and a great-grandmother of one. She watched one of her own daughters suffer and die from cancer, but she thinks any effort to shorten a life is sacrilege.
Her long life, she said, is “a gift from God. And to have anyone tamper with it in any way is so disrespectful.”
Its respect not disrespect, said Nelson. She said assisted suicide gives terminally ill patients some measure of control.
“It relieves them so much of the fear of suffering and dying that they actually live longer,” Nelson said.
People on both sides packed the council chambers, but councilmembers punted a vote off until next month.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has yet to weigh in on the right to die. If the council passes it and Bowser signs it, it’s the kind of bill that social conservatives in congress might yet try to quash.