District of Columbia (2017- )

Assisted suicide became lawful in the District of Columbia effective from 6 June 2017. As of 10 April 2018 no one had made use of the law. In October 2018 –during Suicide Prevention Month – a public service announcement promoting assisted suicide was run in the District of Columbia by advocates concerned at the lack of residents volunteering to take part in assisted suicide.


Assisted suicide became lawful in the District of Columbia effective from 6 June 2017.

The law is modelled on Oregon’s including referral, at the discretion of the attending physician or consulting physician, to a psychiatrist or psychologist for assessment of whether or not the “the patient is suffering from a psychiatric or psychological disorder or depression causing impaired judgment”.

DC Health has created online modules for patients and physicians which each of these participants must sign off as having been viewed. The modules are in power point format and basically set out the requirements of the Act.

There has been no annual statistical report to date. The report is not likely to be very useful as unlike Oregon and Washington there is no provision for reporting on the reasons for requesting assisted suicide (apart from the underlying condition), on complications, on the length of the patient-doctor relationship, on the length of time from first request to death or from ingestion to either unconsciousness or death.

As of 10 April 2018 no one had made use of the law.

The Pharmacist Education Module, which it is not mandatory for a pharmacist to view before dispensing the lethal substance, recommends that “Pharmacists should educate themselves to recognize prescriptions that apply to Death with Dignity and pre-medications. Medications should be taken on empty stomach to help with absorption. Medications must be ingested swiftly (i.e., less than ninety (90) seconds). Examples of possible medications include, but are not limited to, the following: – Secobarbital capsules with the contents removed and collected in a glass, then mixed with four (4) oz. of room temperature water or juice (note: do not use grapefruit juice); – Protocol of diazepam, digitalis, morphine sulfate and propranolol (aka DDMP)."

A pharmacist may dispense the lethal substance to any agent nominated either orally (presumably by phone) or in writing by the person who is intended to use it.

The official form for patients allows for the optional appointment of a person to be responsible for discarding any unused lethal substance. The DC Health website suggests disposing of such substances mixed with coffee grounds or cat litter in, say, an empty margarine tub in the regular trash.

In October 2018 –during Suicide Prevention Month!! – a public service announcement promoting assisted suicide was run in the District of Columbia by advocates concerned at the lack of residents using the deadly law.

Conclusion

The promotion of assisted suicide during Suicide Prevention Month is a new low in the crassness of the assisted suicide experimenters desperate to find guinea pigs for their experiment in the American capital.

 

 

Download a fact sheet on the District of Columbia 


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