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US Senator James Lankford, R-OK. Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews
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Congressmen introduce bill to block DC assisted suicide

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

WASHINGTON, D.C., JANUARY 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Oklahoma Senator James Lankford and Ohio Congressman Brad Wenstrup today introduced companion resolutions to overturn the District of Columbia bill legalizing physician-assisted suicide.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the bill into law just before Christmas after it passed the city council twice. Congress now may review and block the legislation, as it has the authority under the US Constitution and the DC Home Rule Act to review actions by the District of Columbia. 

"America must be a nation that supports and cherishes human life, no matter the age, ethnicity or health of that life," said Lankford. "Washington, DC’s assisted suicide bill would erode our culture’s respect for life, and possibly lead to the mistreatment and exploitation of the disabled and most vulnerable among us. The District of Columbia has also not addressed the legality of their ability to create this law, since Congress has prohibited the use of government funds for purposes related to assisted suicide. This bill is about much more than dignity—there are far-reaching ramifications that could deteriorate America’s values regarding our foundational right to life."

"As a physician of over 25 years, access to quality healthcare for every American is a concern that is close to my heart. By authorizing doctors to violate the Hippocratic Oath of ‘do no harm,’ physician-assisted suicide undermines a key safeguard that protects our nation’s most vulnerable citizens and ensures our loved ones receive the best medical care when they need it most," said Dr. Wenstrup. "Under this new law, if D.C. residents are not able to pay for health care out of pocket, they may find their options severely limited when facing a new diagnosis, suffering from a chronic illness, facing a disability, or struggling with mental illness. If Congress fails to act on this, it will imply tacit federal approval of physician-assisted suicide -- and I firmly believe that is not the right path."

The DC "Death with Dignity Act" authorizes doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medicine to patients with terminal illnesses they deem have no more than six months to live.

"There are concerns that the definition of 'terminal disease' is too broad, as many conditions—such as diabetes or leukemia—are terminal if left untreated," a press release from Lankford's office noted.

Lankford chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, which has jurisdiction over the District of Columbia. The Assisted Suicide Funding Restriction Act of 1997, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, strictly forbids the use of government funds for purposes related to assisted suicide. 

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has also said he will work to block assisted suicide from becoming law in the nation's capital. He chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which may review and send D.C. laws to Congress for reconsideration.

Opponents of doctor-prescribed suicide say doctors should help patients live rather than help them kill themselves. Disability rights groups have called assisted suicide a "deadly form of discrimination" because it sends the message that it's acceptable for the disabled or sick, but not able-bodied people, to kill themselves. 

Critics are also concerned that the vulnerable will face pressure to be killed because it will be cheaper for insurance companies to pay for one dose of death drugs than expensive, possibly lengthy treatments.

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