Norton Will Defend D.C.’s ‘Death with Dignity Act’ from Congressional Interference

Dec 20, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—After District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser yesterday signed D.C.’s medical aid-in-dying bill, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) reaffirmed she will defend the Death with Dignity Act from congressional interference once the city has transmitted the law to Congress next year.  Medical aid in dying is already legal in six states.  According to Gallup, a majority of Americans (69% in 2016) have supported medical aid in dying since 1973.

“This legislation was controversial in the District of Columbia and we must honor and respect residents who disagreed,” Norton said.  “But, the D.C. Council held hearings, heard all points of view, observed all the democratic processes, and proceeded as the Council and other legislative bodies do based on the will of the majority.  Therefore, I am preparing a vigorous defense of the District’s local legislation, which is entitled to stand under the Home Rule Act and American principle of local control over local affairs. If Congress believes that medical aid in dying is bad policy, it has the authority under the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause to prohibit physicians nationwide from prescribing lethal doses of medication.  Indeed, 10 years ago, separate legislation was introduced to prohibit doctors nationwide from prescribing lethal doses of medication under both the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Controlled Substances Act, but neither passed, perhaps in deference to local and state law.  There is no justification for Congress abusing its authority over the District by singling the District out for different treatment.”