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Despite opposition, assisted suicide law takes effect in nation's capital


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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The District of Columbia has joined six states in the country in allowing doctors to prescribe lethal medications to terminally ill patients who want to end their lives.

Although the District of Columbia City Council voted 11-2 Nov. 15 to approve the "Death with Dignity Act" and Mayor Muriel Bowser signed it into law in December, it still faced possible defeat by federal lawmakers.

The Home Rule Act of 1973 gives the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives a small window in which they have the right to overturn District laws.

Pro-life advocates and proponents for the terminally ill, the elderly and the disabled -- who vehemently reject assisted suicide, saying it would lead to abuse and harm the city's most vulnerable populations -- had hoped Congress would act on the measure.

On Feb. 13, the House Oversight Committee approved a resolution to cancel the law, but the resolution never made it to the floor for a full House vote. Feb. 17 was the deadline for Congress to cancel the District's law. Since the deadline passed with no action, the law went into effect Feb. 18.

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