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Assisted Suicide Is Now Available In DC, Faces Threat From Republicans.

Assisted-suicides are now legal and available in Washington D.C., the (https://mayor.dc.gov/release/bowser-administration-announces-implementation-death-dignity-act-2016) mayor's office announced Monday.

The Death with Dignity Act of 2016 was passed last November, and as of this week doctors are allowed to prescribe life-ending drugs to competent, terminally-ill patients in D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser's office said.

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The law's implementation will allow patients who have less than six months left to live to "end their lives in a humane and peaceful manner," the Bowser administration said.

The process will be regulated and overseen by the DC Department of Health (DOH). The DOH will inform on how the Death with Dignity process works and about requirements that must be followed by patients and physicians.

The program is voluntary for physicians and pharmacists, which means medical providers are not obligated to provide prescriptions or medications to patients.

Assisted suicide is different from (http://www.ibtimes.com/what-euthanasia-more-terminally-ill-california-patients-seek-life-ending-drugs-2546864) euthanasia . For euthanasia, end-of-life procedures, which may include life-ending injections, are performed by the doctor themselves on a patient. During assisted suicides, a lethal dose of drugs is willingly bought by the patient to end his or her life, according to (http://www.patientsrightscouncil.org/site/euthanasia-assisted-suicide-health-care-decisions/) Patients Rights Council.

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How D.C.'s Assisted Suicide Program Works

For the Death with Dignity program, life-ending drugs can be requested by terminally-ill patient who are at least 18 years or older.

"The patient cannot be suffering from impaired judgment as a result of depression or a psychiatric or psychological condition and must be capable of making the decision, expressing an intent to take a medication that will cause death, and must be physically capable of taking the medication," the Bowser office explains.

Patients are required to take an oral test, a written request and another oral request, which cannot be made until at least 15 days after the first oral request. Oral requests can be made in person through sign language, over the phone or an electronic speech generation device. If the patient is unable to speak, use sign language or talk over the phone, he or she can write the request while a physician is present. The written request must be made between oral requests on the DC Department of Health approved (http://doh.dc.gov/page/death-dignity-act-2016.) form.

Besides D.C., assisted suicides are legal in California, Oregon, Colorado, Montana, Vermont and Washington state.

California recently (http://www.ibtimes.com/what-euthanasia-more-terminally-ill-california-patients-seek-life-ending-drugs-2546864) completed its first year since its End Of Life Option law went into effect . Since June 2016, 504 terminally-ill patients have chose to end their lives through legalized euthanisia or assisted suicide.

However, Republicans, headed by Rep. Andy Harris, R-MD, introduced a (https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/house-committee-advances-measure-to-block-assisted-suicide-in-dc/2017/07/14/72166bde-67f5-11e7-a1d7-9a32c91c6f40_story.html?utm_term=.3ca1cfb41f2d) measure to repeal D.C's assisted suicide law. For the amendment to take effect, it will need to be approved by the House, Senate and President Donald Trump.
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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:Jul 19, 2017
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