Virginians watching DC's Dying with Dignity Act hearing

Virginians watching DC's Dying with Dignity Act hearing

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Virginians will be watching closely when a Washington, DC council debates the Dying with Dignity Act Friday, which would allow people within six months of death to self-administer a prescription that would end their life.

Opponents call it suicide, but a terminally-ill Colonial Heights woman says she should have the right to go peacefully. Only five states currently have laws in place which allow terminally ill people to end their lives.

"It's a struggle to breathe," said Cynthia Travis who has end stage pulmonary fibrosis. She was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis two years ago. Now needing help breathing and taking more than a dozen pills a day, Travis says she's homebound and always in pain.

"It's a struggle everyday, and everyday it gets worse," said Travis. She says doctors have told her she has six months or less to live and, if it were legal in Virginia, she would choose to die with dignity.

"I think a person has the right to decide when the suffering has become too much," said Travis.

Washington D.C.'s council begins the debate Friday over the proposed Death with Dignity Act that would allow patients who are terminally ill and have certification from two physicians to obtain prescription drugs in order to end their lives.

"There is no dignity in taking your own life," said Pastor Rick McDaniel of Richmond Community Church, who says it's not a choice we should be able to make. "We will suffer in this life and the answer to suffering is not to take matters into your hands and end your life. God can do miracles. Medicine can have breakthroughs. Things can change."

But with three daughters and nine grandchildren, Travis says she doesn't want to take that chance.

"It's not just me going though it. its also my children my loved ones," said Travis. "It's not about suicide. It's about being able to make that peaceful move into death."

The debate in D.C. Friday is the first hearing on the bill. One must be a resident to legally have the right to die.

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