Suicide

Congressman Attempts to Meddle in D.C.'s New Assisted Suicide Law

|

Jason Chaffetz
Ron Sachs/CNP/AdMedia/Newscom

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) previously attempted to interfere in Washington, D.C.'s legalization of recreational marijuana use, warning City Council that the ballot initiative passed by voters was illegal.

Now Chaffetz is back at it again, trying to block a new law that would respect an individual's right to choose what to do with his or her body. In December, D.C.'s City Council passed a right-to-die law that authorizes doctors to prescribe drugs to aid in assisted suicide.

Chaffetz is the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has the power to intervene and block municipal legislation by D.C. On Monday Chaffetz told the press he opposed the law and planned to introduce a disapproval resolution to try to block it, saying "Assisted suicide is not something we take lightly."

The council member who introduced the legislation, Mary M. Cheh, is not having it. From the Washington Post:

"This is entirely a local matter and he may have philosophical or perhaps even religious objections, but we have made our own choice and it should be respected," Cheh said. "Is he not aware there are a number of other states that have approved this? Why isn't he using his federal powers to intervene with them? It's only because under our degraded democracy there are some members of Congress who think they can use us a plaything."

Peg Sandeen, executive director of the Oregon-based Death with Dignity National Center, said, "Congress has better things to do than meddle with the District's business .?.?. Representative Chaffetz should stay focused on Utah."

Six states currently legally permit assisted suicide (Utah is not one of them). While Congress has the power to void laws passed by D.C., the Post notes that it's actually relatively rare that it does so, though it can use its appropriation powers to financially meddle with the city's ability to implement laws, like it has attempted in response to the marijuana legalization.

California just recently joined the small group of states permitting assisted suicide. Montana also allows it as the outcome of a state supreme court decision. ReasonTV took a look at the struggle in Montana over who has the authority to decide when you may end your life. Watch below:

Advertisement

NEXT: Cop Gives Man a $128 Ticket for Starting Car, Leaving It Running in His Own Driveway

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The more people committing suicide in DC, the better.

  2. So Team Red is gonna be in charge this year, and this is the best thing Booger can come up with? I guess he has a reputation to maintain of Republicans being petulant obsctructionist children with no interest in governing.

    1. I liked his actions in the inquires into Hilary. He handled himself pretty well from the few hours of footage i watched on TV but this shit is stupid. Seriously fuck off and let people do what they want. I personally had no interest in living to my 70s or living with a miserable illness so if i freakishly die when ill awesome 😉

  3. And in other Republicans Are Puritanical Assholes news, Orrin Hatch asked Jeff Sessions at his confirmation hearing to set up a task force to go after obscenity. Sessions says he’ll consider it.

    1. Dang, give those friendly faced Utahns some power, they start going full theocracy the first week.

    2. Sessions says he’ll consider it.

      That’s what I say when I have no intention of “considering” anything. I hope Sessions is the same.

      1. That’s what I say when I have no intention of “considering” anything.

        “Interesting” ….

        1. Well, bless your heart.

      2. Unfortunately, we’re talking about Jeff Sessions here: “Good people don’t smoke marijuana”.

      3. Sessions has introduced resolutions calling for obscenity laws to be vigorously enforced. I don’t think he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

        1. Can you link to one or the report thereof?

  4. How did this state elect someone like Mike Lee? Or Mia Love?

  5. Right to die – Right to kill (abortion). Whats the diff?

    1. The person making the decision for you.

    2. I’m not a fetus growing inside my own body.

      1. But you could remember giving birth to yourself and remember being born…

  6. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) previously attempted to interfere in Washington, D.C.’s legalization of recreational marijuana use, warning City Council that the ballot initiative passed by voters was illegal.

    Not that I’m on his side, but isn’t he technically correct (the best kind of correct) on the MJ issue because of federal law & scheduling?

    1. You mean the unconstitutional federal “law”?

      1. I guess. But, right now since it hasn’t been challenged then it stands as the law and so technically Chaffetz’s is right.

    2. Nope, not technically correct. A federal law against X doesn’t make the lack of local laws against X illegal.

  7. Just let America’s Gaza Strip be absorbed into Maryland and dissolve this nonsense committee.

    1. Or into UTAH!

    2. That’s always been my preferred solution. The only group that hurts is the Maryland GOP, but nobody cares abut them anyway, least of all Maryland.

      DC should be coterminous with the Mall.

      1. The only group that hurts is the Maryland GOP, but nobody cares abut them anyway, least of all Maryland.

        Somebody should let Governor Larry Hogan (R) know.

        Maryland already has one horribly dysfunctional urban area. I say, split DC and NoVa off as a new state. Call it Bureaucratopia. I’m sure the rest of Virginia would be happy.

  8. “This is entirely a local matter and he may have philosophical or perhaps even religious objections, but we have made our own choice and it should be respected,”

    What a novel fucking idea.

  9. OT: file this under “very cool” AND “too much free time”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMBfzv94oeQ

    1. Snooker (think pool/billiards) trick shot.

  10. California just recently joined the small group of states permitting assisted suicide.

    Yeah, they push you off the ledge in case you lose your nerve…

  11. Like Sugarfree suggests, handing the District back to Maryland would eliminate a constitutional anomaly and give Washington DC citizens the protective shelter of the 10th Amendment (for what it’s worth).

    As to letting doctors prescribe suicide drugs – if you *must* legalize suicide (and I don’t want it legal), then keep physicians and nurses out of it.

    The medical profession is already dealing with the corrupting influence of letting doctors do abortions – going another step and actually letting them bump off their patients will even further undermine what should be an exclusive focus on healing.

    1. Also, implementing assisted suicide in the context of the actually-existing medical system (as opposed to the Libertopian system which is just around the corner) means *yuuuge* financial incentives to get really sick and old patients to exercise their “legal rights.”

    2. Re: The Fusionist,

      As to letting doctors prescribe suicide drugs – if you *must* legalize suicide (and I don’t want it legal), then keep physicians and nurses out of it.

      I may be risking committing a slippery-slope argument, but the consequence of legalizing murder and calling it “right to die” can turn what seems to be a personal right, which is the right to end your own life by your own hand, and turn it into a positive right, which means doctors who refuse to assist could be liable for violating a person’s civil rights. That has been the problem with positive rights, always.

      1. Add in the perverse incentive for those with a financial interest but no personal stake to push the cheaper “death with dignity” option over extended treatment. This the (other) end result which concerns me, especially since we have seen it happen in European jurisdictions.

    3. No doctor should be forced to prescribe potentially life ending medication, but they shouldn’t be barred from it either, especially the way the Right to Die laws have been setup with an abundance of stopping points. It’s not like anyone can just go into the doctor’s office and say give me something to kill myself with.

      You have to be certified by several physicians that yew, you are terminal, usually within 6 months. Then you may have to have psychologists talk to you. Then you have to be physically and mentally able to do the drugs on your own. No one else is able to do that last step.

      The states where it’s legal have averaged about 50 people a year dying with the legal aid of a physician. It’s most definitely *not* get rid of the “useless” or anyone can kill themselves now.

  12. Peg Sandeen, executive director of the Oregon-based Death with Dignity National Center, said, “Congress has better things to do than meddle with the District’s business

    So much for the idea that states’ rights are code words for “racist policies”.

  13. Way off topic: From the confirmation hearings…

    Graham: Do you think the Russians were behind hacking into our election?

    Sessions: I have done no research into that. I know just what the media says about it.

    Graham: Do you think you could get briefed soon?

    Sessions: Well, I’ll need to.

    Graham: I think you do. Do you like the FBI?

    Sessions: Do I like them?

    Graham: Yeah.

    Sessions: Some of my best friends are FBI agents.

    I have this mental image of a smiling Sessions with his arm around a very uncomfortable-looking FBI agent.

    1. “Please name those agents.”

    2. So, is Sessions just trolling people in these examples?

      1. I tried watching it for a while, but it was just so tedious.

  14. This guy, sheesh.

  15. “This is entirely a local matter and he may have philosophical or perhaps even religious objections, but we have made our own choice and it should be respected,” Cheh said. “Is he not aware there are a number of other states that have approved this? Why isn’t he using his federal powers to intervene with them? It’s only because under our degraded democracy there are some members of Congress who think they can use us a plaything.”

    Peg Sandeen, executive director of the Oregon-based Death with Dignity National Center, said, “Congress has better things to do than meddle with the District’s business .?.?. Representative Chaffetz should stay focused on Utah.”

    See, this is why I like libertarians – most people would just be distracted by the larger question of whether or not assisted suicide should be legal or whether or not suicide itself is immoral but here at libertarian HQ we know the real issue is that the Constitution granted the federal government that piece of land known as DC and if you don’t like the way they’re running it you’re free to move elsewhere.

    “Meddle with the District’s business”? Bitch, please. You’re living in this guy’s house, he can do as he pleases. DC’s business is his business. Why then isn’t he using his federal powers to intervene in the affairs of “other” states? Because they’re sovereign states and you ain’t even a state and you sure aren’t sovereign. There’s such a thing as “rule of law”, you know.

    1. There’s such a thing as “rule of law”, you know.

      hahaha oh you

  16. “It’s only because under our degraded democracy there are some members of Congress who think they can use us a plaything.”

    “Taxation without representation.”

  17. Is the right to life inalienable or not?

    1. And what about the right to *alien* life?

    2. I’d say no. I’ve got every right to pay a suicide machine operator to help me end my life.

    3. The existence of the phrase “collateral damage” indicates that it is not.

      1. That just alienates you from life, not the right to life.

  18. This should really be about federal oversight of DC.

    According to the Constitution:

    The Congress shall have Power . . .

    “To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be”

    —Article I, Section 8

    Congress’ power to rule the District of Colombia is absolute, and that comes from the same place as Congress’ power to declare war.

    Even if we’re talking about amending the Constitution so that DC had home rule, I think I’d oppose that. If DC were like a state, it would be more progressive than California or Massachusetts. Can you imagine the endless potential for state government to fuck with people from political parties they don’t like? There might be a new PizzaGate every day with actual charges filed against the conspirators–real, imagined, or otherwise.

  19. I have had to put down several pets, and marveled at how efficient and dignified and peaceful the transition was. then I look at several people I have known who would have benefitted greatly from the same opportunity.
    For myself, I would like to have the choice.

    1. I would like to have the choice.

      You do. May not be able to do it via injection, but there’s plenty of ways to get a fatal dose of drugs in your house. Pro-tip – any opiate painkiller will kill you, pretty easy, with an overdose. Just make sure its a massive overdose, or you could wind up braindamaged and on life support for a long, very unpleasant, time.

      Interesting factoid: it is not against the law to commit suicide, only to attempt it.

      Personally, I am very uneasy about opening the door to assisted suicide.

      1. That bit about possibly screwing up and winding up only mostly dead is why I would like someone else to oversee such a procedure if I decided I wanted to have it done.
        There is no connection between what I want and your counter proposal.

      2. I would also add that a person may want to die after they no longer have the ability to do it themselves. A friend’s mother considered killing herself early on in a cascading series of system failures (heart attack, brain bleeds). By the time she told my friend she was ready to go, she was in closely monitored nursing home care with no way to get it done. The terror and despair in her expression the most recent time I saw her was the stuff of nightmares.

      3. Insulin will also do the job for diabetics in the form of a massive overdose. My wife almost did it by mistake. When your blood sugar falls far enough, you won’t know enough to do anything about it. There are “slow” insulins and “fast” insulins. Take the “fast” when you think you’re taking the “slow” and without someone to force sugar on you, it is very likely you’ll end up on the medical examiner’s marble slab.

  20. Funny thing about “assisted suicide”. I’ve known a few nurses and a doctor who told me this sort of thing happens now. In subtle non-obvious ways, of course. The doctor told me that anyone who has a pat answer to these tough medical decisions doesn’t understand the issue. The law may be what it is, but reality in an intensive care unit is another matter.

    1. No doubt, but I think actual assisted suicide (in the strong sense) is very rare. What we do is put people on “palliative”/comfort care with “do not resuscitate/allow natural death” orders. Comfort care includes painkillers which can easily kill somebody in a weakened condition, so . . . . the line can get blurry, I’ll leave it at that.

      1. My doctor acquaintance had no patience for the moralists’ black and white view of issues where the lines are inherently blurry.

        In the same vein, but on a lighter note, some 30 years ago I knew an intensive care nurse who laughed at the push to legalize medical marijuana. Go to any cancer ward, she told me, and you’ll smell pot; doctors and nurses turn a blind eye.

      2. I had to make the DNR call for my mother less than a week before my son, her first grandchild, was born. When they called me about it the first questions I asked was “Are you talking about being on a machine during a crisis and then back off or for good?” When they told me that when she needed to go on life support it would be from there on out ot the end, I had little hesitation in saying then don’t do it. She had never explicitly said what she wanted, but I thought I knew her well enough to be pretty darn certain she wouldn’t have wanted to spend her last time hooked up to a machine when she herself was gone. She died only three days after my son was born and was already so far gone she never even knew she was a grandmother.

        I’ve made sure that my family knows what I want. Once I’m gone, the essential me that thinks and feels and wants and lives, don’t stick me on some machine just to keep the body going. If my death is going to be a long, drawn out, painful process, I hope I have some way to make the choice for myself when it’s been long enough.

  21. Both of our major political parties are opposed to the idea of “self ownership”. Or individual freedom for that matter.

  22. GODDAMMIT!
    I can END my life as I see fit!
    GODDAMN IT! Fuck you government!

    1. And I have no wish to die, but I have thought about this a lot as my loved ones have suffered.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.