Saturday, August 27, 2016

DC Bill: Patients Have No Right to be Told of Options for Cure or to Extend Life; Patient Choice is Not Assured

"Ejusdem generis, Latin for
"of the same kind.”
By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA

"Ejusdem generis" is Latin for "of the same kind."[1] The phrase is also a rule of statutory construction, which is used to interpret loosely written statutes[2]. The rule states:

"Where a law lists specific classes of persons or things and then refers to them in general, the general statements only apply to the same kind of persons or things specifically listed. Example:  if a law refers to automobiles, trucks, tractors, motorcycles and other motor-powered vehicles, 'vehicles' would not include airplanes, since the list was of land-based transportation." (Emphasis added). [3]

The District of Columbia bill, which seeks to legalize assisted-suicide for "terminal" patients, has a lethal dose request form in which the patient certifies that he has been fully informed of "feasible alternatives."[4] The form, to be signed by the patient, states:
I have been fully informed of my [terminal] diagnosis, the nature of the [lethal dose] to be prescribed and potential associated risks, the expected result [death], and the feasible alternatives, including comfort care, hospice care, and pain control.[5]
With this language, the patient would not have the right to be told of feasible alternatives for cure or to extend life, since the list was of options for dying. Without a right to full information, patient choice is not assured.

To learn more about problems with the DC Bill, read my recent memo and attached documentation, which can be viewed by clicking here and here.

* * *
[2]  Id.
[3]  Id.
[4]  District of Columbia bill, B21-38, Sec. 3(c), lines 101 to 103, available at
[5]  Id.
"Ejusdem generis, Latin for
"of the same kind.”